Ally Condie is the author of the best-selling Matched series and the recently released stand-alone novel Atlantia. She visited Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) (Colorado Springs, Colo.) on Friday, November 14, 2014 to give three presentations at our new library. The day was packed! Two presentations were for students and one was for the public. In total, 1,108 people attended! It was a truly amazing day.
This author event was achieved with the help of a large number of people. Ally Condie’s visit was the first author event that I have planned. As the Teen Services Coordinator, I was in charge of the event, but I didn’t do it alone. Thirty-two staff members from the Teen Services Team, Community Engagement and Outreach Office (public relations), Facilities, and Security made this day go smoothly. We also had 20 teen volunteers.
The Kirkpatrick Family Fund sponsored Condie’s fee for the day with a very generous grant, which we applied for with the help of the PPLD Foundation. Once we received the grant we had one year to find an author and plan the event. Additional funding was donated by the PPLD Foundation to, in part, pay for buses so students from area schools could join us. One teacher commented in a survey, “Thanks so much for providing the transportation. Without that, my students could not have attended.”
Schedule and Statistics:
9 am student presentation: 281 students and adults
11 am student presentation: 311 students and adults
6 pm reception: 24 winners and guests
7 pm public presentation: 417 patrons
8 pm book signing only (just waited in line; didn’t see the presentation): 75 (many more people had their books signed! Condie signed books for 2.5 hours!)
We had 1,108 people attend the five programs associated with the event!
School visits for booktalks and resource classes provided us with a captive audience to promote the author event.
Partnership with Barnes & Noble: They sold books at the event, so they were willing to put bookmarks and posters up. Independent book stores also helped us promote by putting up posters, but selling books at the event wasn’t something they could do.
One of the local newspapers (The Colorado Springs Independent) had an article about the event.
PPLD’s one book, one community program is called All Pikes Peak Reads. Matched was the teen selection. This synchronicity provided another way for the event to be promoted.
Word of mouth was very important. Staff members were excited, so it was easy for everyone to talk about it. We also used social media to get the word out on Facebook and twitter.
I put together a survey for the teachers. The comments were wonderful! Here are a few:
“Great presentation, and very motivational and engaging.”
“The day went exceedingly well. Our students enjoyed the presentation very much. Condie was well prepared for all of the questions and gave many helpful tips to aspiring writers.”
“My students liked the personal nature of her remarks. Several of them talked about wanting to write books. I think hearing her, they realized that they could write too.”
When I started planning this author visit, I was quite intimidated. To prevent myself from having a nervous breakdown, I took a lot of deep breaths, created checklists for every aspect of the day, and got help from a lot of people. Amazing things are possible and, as Condie’s characters frequently remind each other in Matched, “Do not go gentle”.
The line at the Ally Condie book signing (Click to expand):
Photo by Tori Sparrow
 Thomas, Dylan, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” Poets.org, Nov. 29, 2014, http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night.