Welcome back to the second and final part of my YALC round up, my lovely little pumpkin pasties! If you haven’t read Part 1, you can head over and have a little nosey here.
I had an absolutely brilliant time at YALC, but there are definitely a few things that I have learned and some tips I’ve picked up that will help me (and maybe you!) make the most of the convention when next year rolls round.
Get comfy, it’s time for my YALC survival tips!
Forsake the beauty sleep
The doors opened at 9am and when we arrived at 9:15, the queue was already pretty long. The first panel had started just as we got in, so if you’re desperate to be on time, put away those sleepy grimaces and arrive an hour early.
Bring a sturdy bag, and wear cool clothes
Yes, I am your Mum and I do mean cool as in breezy. Even if it’s raining outside, it’ll get bloody hot in there. A comfortable and roomy bag is of utmost importance – your shoulders will thank you later in a way that mine definitely didn’t! Classic disorganisation on my part.
Bonus tip: coffee is useful, water is a must. You can take both in with you.
If you can only go on one day, prioritise!
Can only make one day? You have two options: either prioritise the authors you’d like to meet/panels you’d like to listen to, or the proofs you want to get your hands on. Lots of publishers brought proofs and excerpts with them, but many (like Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige) were gone after the Friday. If the aim of your game is to grab unreleased books, go on the Friday.
Talk to people on stands and don’t be afraid to approach people
Although I’m quite a confident person, I seem to turn into a quivering mess when faced with people I respect. I did speak to a few publishers and they were all very nice and happy to chat books – after all, they’re bookworms too! However, I wish I’d pressed more of them for details about how to get my blog onto their publicity lists, or for tips on blogging in general.
Equally, authors are just people too, and they are happy to hear why you loved their book! I didn’t see or hear of one author refusing a photo or getting tired of talking to fans, so swallow your fear and speak with then if you can! I wish I’d approached Chris Riddell to tell him how much I respect his work as Children’s Laureate, illustrator and a campaigner for children’s book coverage, but I let my nerves get in the way.
Be prepared for queues
If you don’t like a good queue, you might find it difficult to get a book signed unless you’re lucky enough to spot an author wandering the floor like a rogue Pikachu. The best way to beat the queue for an author is to leave their panel early and wait in front of the tables. Boring? Yes. But this is what the books you’ve just brought are for! Take a pew on the floor and get stuck into a new read to pass the time.
Keep an eye on Twitter
Make sure you follow all of the YA and Children’s Publishing Houses and imprints that you can, as well as the official YALC Twitter account. They regularly made announcements for surprise author appearances, the availability of proofs, YALC challenges and competitions and updates on the amount of stock they had left (I hear proofs of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and V.E. Schwab’s new book This Savage Song disappeared pretty sharpish!).
I’ve made a list of publishers on Twitter to get you ready for 2017, because I’m cool like that. Click here to check it out.
Consider a combination ticket
If you also like your comics, graphic novels, superhero movies, sci-fi, GoT or Harry Potter, then you should definitely considering getting a ticket that allows you access to London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) too. LFCC is much bigger than YALC, and they also have merchandise stalls selling things like film and TV prints, clothing and Funkos, whereas YALC doesn’t. If you don’t fancy spending ages queuing to meet authors or get books signed, you could spend a couple of happy, nerdy hours exploring the Comic Con instead.
Make sure you eat!
Sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how things like food pale in comparison to the wonder of books and your favourite authors. You can either make like Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club girls and bring cheesy snacks a-plenty with you, or you can leave and come back in (or so I have been reliably informed) to make sure you’re fuelled up for a full day of bookish wonder. There are plenty of places to eat on the Hammersmith Road, including Starbucks, Pizza Express, Nandos, Wagamamas, as well as pubs and cafes. There is a cafe on the YALC floor, but it is very small and it gets busy around lunchtime.
Take a notepad or a portable phone charger
If you’re a blogger, you’re going to want a fully charged phone or a notepad handy for a number of sensible reasons: to take notes during panels for all of those awesome discussion or round-up posts, to live tweet your day, to take photos for your blog or bookstagram and importantly, to write down or save the details of other bloggers or people you meet! My advice? Take both. If you can’t afford a portable charger and your phone dies, you can still resort to the age-old paper and pen method. Who doesn’t love a good notebook, anyway? #PaperchasesBestCustomer
There are so few big events like this for lovers of YA in the UK and it really was a wonderful celebration. Everyone was having a good time, and there were only positive vibes in the air. If you can make it to London next year, go forth and seek all of the free stuff you can carry, chat enthusiastically to all the bookish people you meet, and spend the whole day with a massive, cheesy grin and a heart full of book love.