So, this year I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Young Adult Literature Convention, part of London Film & Comic Con. I was really really nervous and excited as I had never attended a convention before, but I was really looking forward to seeing some of my favorite authors!
To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that there were going to be a few exhibitors that I was really looking forward to, and LFCC published a schedule of talks, workshops, activities, and booksignings about two weeks before the events. This made it very easy to plan my day, however, I had a few hiccups (which I will explain later).
First off, I thought the venue was excellent. YALC had its own devoted entrance and floor with stairs and lifts taking you straight to the floor. It was spacious and roomy, and even had a small reading area and cafe! There was also plenty of open floor space, which lots of people took advantage of to sit and eat their packed lunches. The floor had its own toilets as well, though I understand that some people had some trouble accessing the disabled toilets, which were sectioned off as part of a VIP area =(There were lots of exhibitors! Every major publisher had a stand loaded with activities, books, and lots of goodies to give away! There were also a few independent publishers, authors, companies and awareness groups/charities who had stands as well.
When you attend, you are encouraged to purchase a booklet detailing all the activities and scheduled talks, but there are posters with the daily schedule in some prominent spots, so it is not necessary to do this.
Also, the way they had it arranged was that whoever was speaking on a panel would be signing books directly after. This is fantastic because it gives you the opportunity to hear some authors that you may not have been exposed to before and go buy their books and get them signed immediately after! However, this can lead to some very long queues. I noticed that many people were leaving halfway through the author panels to get their place in line for the author signing.
Now, let me give you a few of my thoughts and tips in case you are set on going next year!
- First off, sign up to Twitter, and Instagram and follow all the authors/exhibitors you see. These resources are invaluable because you will get spur-of-the-moment giveaway information and authors will let you know where they are hanging out for the day to see them! I saw loads of people queuing at some stands and had no idea what they were queuing for until I overheard someone saying something about a Twitter ARC announcement. Some exhibitors will also post secret “passwords” to go up and get free stuff from them!
- Take cash with you. A few exhibitors have card machines, but many do not! There are so many bookish deals around — many stands were doing 3/£10 or buy-one-get-one-free on books. You don’t want to miss out on a good deal because they don’t take card payments!
- Take a bag with you initially. You need something to carry all your bookish purchases in! Some exhibitors were giving out bags with purchases, though. I think I ended up with three or four tote bags by the end of my second day in addition to the backpack I brought.
- If you are looking to save money, buy the book before the signing. This event is sponsored by Waterstones, and they had an enormous shopping area stocked with books from all the authors who were appearing. Many of the exhibitors had books from the authors as well, although they were much cheaper than Waterstones. However, if the author is making an appearance or signing, the exhibitors are not allowed to sell the books within a few hours of that authors appearance — only Waterstones is able to sell their books. If you find yourself completely blown away by an author during a talk and looking to purchase their books to get them signed, you will need to queue at Waterstones to get their book.
- If you miss a signing, don’t panic! This happened to me. I wanted to attend a panel, but it was during the same time one of the authors I wanted to see was signing books! It’s okay, though, because many authors were signing well beyond their scheduled time, and a few authors were doing multiple signings. Also, because Waterstones is sponsoring the event, they have the author sign several copies of their books to stock so you can still pick up a signed book from them if you would like to.
- Speak to people about workshops and activities. This is where I missed out. I saved all the workshops I wanted to do for the last day I was attending, and ended up not being able to do any! I didn’t know that you needed to sign up beforehand. There was someone from YALC sitting outside the workshop area to take down names of people who wanted to attend, and once they reached a certain number, no one else was able to join. I didn’t know this and showed up at 11 when the workshop was, and was turned away. I really wish that this was explained a little better as there was nothing on the fliers or schedule explaining this.
- Speak to exhibitors. Speak to everyone at the booths! They are giving away loads of things and want to give them to you! They are also just as bookish as you are and will recommend you books to read if you are interested in any of the books they have on display. They will also let you know which books are early YALC releases, so you can get your hands on them before anybody else!
- If you see something you want, grab it! Many of the exhibitors only bring a certain amount of stock with them to YALC, and when they run out, that’s it! I wanted to get my hands on Alex and Eliza, and kept telling myself I had too much to carry and would save my book purchases until the end of the day, but the exhibitor ran out of copies by the end of Day 1!
- Have fun!!! Everyone attending is just as bookish as you are! There are a few people who were going around in costumes, and they were brilliant! If you have a little bit of social anxiety like I do, it’s okay! I didn’t feel pressured by anyone, and there was plenty of space for me to have a quiet moment or two when I needed it. Everyone is very understanding and accepting and it was generally a lovely place to be.
I really hope this helps anyone attending in the future. Did anyone else attend YALC? What did you think? What would you recommend?