YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) is the UK’s first young adult book festival. You could say it’s the UK’s equivalent of BookCon and BookExpo which take place in a big city within the US each year. This convention started back in July 2014 with author Malorie Blackman being heavily involved in it’s creation. Over the years, YALC has managed to bring along best-selling authors such as Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, VE Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Marcus Sedgwick, Patrick Ness and many more, making it one of the most exciting events for book bloggers around the UK. I’ve been travelling down to London for YALC from Scotland every Summer since 2016, this will be my third year attending and so I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for you guys to help make your YALC experience more enjoyable.
When I went to YALC the first time, I had no idea what was going on. You’d look one way and people would be running towards a booth. You’d look the other way and people would be searching the hall for a hidden object. The first time was absolute madness for me, but I managed to make some new friends as well as hang out with friends I’d met through the book community too. I hope these tips and tricks will be useful for you, I have learned these from experience, but also remember that everyone handles events like this differently, so make sure you know what you want out of this experience, whether it’s to meet your favourite authors, get your books signed, make new friends, talk to publishers, take part in the workshops, etc. Know what you want out of this experience, then plan and organise around it.
(I may use photos that are not mine for this post to give you guys a feel of YALC, I don’t really have many photos inside of YALC, unfortunately! I will credit and link the owner below each photo, unless it really is mine.)
Anyway, let’s get to these tips…
P L A N P L A N P L A N
So one of the main reasons you’re probably attending YALC is to meet some wonderful authors and to get your books signed. The first thing you need to do before YALC even starts is plan, plan, plan, and plan again. Each author has around 2 – 3 hour slot to sign your books (usually after a panel). YALC is relatively strict with keeping the authors to this time frame, so be sure to plan which authors you want to see, prioritise them if it helps, and make sure you are in line for that author. Once the queues get too long, a YALC staff member will appear at the queue and hand you a number. When they are ready for you to join the queue, they will shout your number. They usually call about 10 – 20 numbers at a time (make sure you’re there for your number being called). This obviously involves a lot of waiting around, so it’s best you plan ahead so you know when the author you like to meet will be signing. It will hopefully help you be one of the first people in the queue.
It’s also very helpful to plan ahead if you’d like to do some of the workshops at YALC. There’s a lot of activities for you to take part in and if any intrigue you, just turn up at the area the workshop will be held in and that’s it! Obviously each workshop has limited spaces, so try be there early to secure your spot.
Planning ahead will really help you balance everything you want to do and on what day, as well as helping you organise which books to take with you that day as well. If you’re like me and coming from another part of the country, or even overseas, you will need to start planning soon and prioritising which books you want to bring with you. Books are heavy and I can guarantee you will come home with a tonne of swag which will weigh your bags down even more. Prioritise the books you want to bring, and if worst comes to the worst, there is a Waterstones area in the hall where you can purchase the book you want.
(YALC 2018 Schedule, londonfilmandcomiccon.com)
(Cassandra Clare signing, YALC 2015, kateormand.com)
B E C O M F O R T A B L E
You’re going to be in a warm hall, in London, in the middle of Summer, and you’re going to be carrying a lot of stuff. Comfort is essential!
Make sure you guys come with comfortable clothing and shoes (serious props to the bookworms who come in cosplay). If you’re warm and uncomfortable it’s just going to ruin the experience for you, so make sure you put comfort first! I wore boots my first year, and it killed my feet, do not follow my example. I have learned from my mistake. I do recommend having a small cardigan or hoodie with you in case you’d like to use it to sit on or if it’s a bit windy outside, you may want to put it on when you leave.
B R I N G F O O D A N D D R I N K
Inside the hall at YALC, there is a small cafe that sells food, but it’s pricey. Across the road from the hall there’s some cafe’s and shops where you can buy some food. You might not want to leave the hall though, so it’s a good idea to come with a pre-made lunch and a bottle of water. I highly recommend the water, because last year it got warm!
It’s far too long a day to go without a bite to eat, by bringing a lunch you will be able to take breaks and sit somewhere comfortable with your friends to eat and boost your energy a bit. Trust me, you’ll need it.
B R I N G E X T R A B A G S
At YALC, a lot of free swag is given out. You’ll get a lot of it, which means you’ll be carrying a lot of it most of the day. You will also buy or win books which will only add to the weight of what you’re carrying. It’s a good idea to bring extra bags. For example; I like to have a backpack. I put my food in there, extra bits and bobs, and multiple tote bags so once one filled up, I just pulled out another and started using that. If you don’t have tote bags, you’re guaranteed to get some there anyway from at least one booth.
Some attendees actually bring along small carry on suitcases with wheels because it means they don’t have heavy backpacks and can easily wheel their things around with them. This is a fantastic idea too if you are bringing a lot of books with you.
B R I N G A P O R T A B L E C H A R G E R
You’ll undoubtedly want to stay in the loop with what’s going on at YALC. So, you’re going to be using your phone a lot. Bringing a portable charger with you will completely eliminate the worry of your phone battery dying halfway through the day. No one wants that!
Find yourself a small charger that you can slip in your pocket with your charging cable so you can walk around and charge it on the go, or purchase a longer charging cable and put the charger in your backpack. This way you can have the cable coming out the zip/pouch of your backpack and have it connected to the phone in your hand. This is the option I prefer as I have a larger portable charger that doesn’t fit in my pockets. However, you don’t need to charge your phone on the go. You can simply use your charger whenever you’re sitting down to eat that handy dandy lunch you prepared in advance.
H A V E M O N E Y O N H A N D
Most of the booths at YALC only accept cash. And there is no ATM’s in the hall, the nearest one is outside and across the street. Do yourself a favour and take out money before you go to YALC for the day as it’s what you’ll be using if you’re interested in buying books from publisher’s or buying from bookish shop stalls. However, last year Waterstones did have an active card machine, as did the GeekyClean booth, so you can always ask the booth you’re buying from if they accept card. Most of the time, they will only be accepting cash.
T A K E B R E A K S
If you bought the weekend ticket for YALC (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) then this will undoubtedly be the most exhausting weekend of your year. This follows on from the ‘Bring Food and Drink‘ section. You guys definitely need to allow yourself to take breaks. YALC kindly provides a large seating area (see pictures below) for attendees to sit and chill out whilst they talk with friends, eat lunch, wait on the next author signing, etc. I highly recommend you take as many breaks as you can, as I said, if you’re uncomfortable and warm, it’ll ruin your experience and that would suck.
Whenever you have spare time, just sit down, relax, chill out and enjoy the fact that you’re at the UK’s biggest book convention and that you’re surrounded by other bookworms who are just as passionate about books as you are. And, why not start reading a book you managed to grab?
(Sarah Churchill, Booktuber, YALC 2015)
(Jo Cotterill, jocotterill.com)
I N T E R A C T
This is your opportunity to make friends with people who have one very large similar interest as you; BOOKS! I absolutely and completely identify as an introvert, but at YALC I enjoy coming out of my dark little shell and talking to people about our shared interest in books. Who knows, you may find a new best friend. Or someone who shares the same favourite author/book as you. YALC is a very friendly, open place, and quite a lot of people attend by themselves. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and start conversation, it’s one of the best parts of YALC.
C I R C U L A T E
YALC has a tonne to offer in regards to books, book swag and bookish shops. Publishers we all know and love such as Bloomsbury, TeamBKMRK, Chapter5, Hot Key Books, Penguin, etc, all have booths with exciting set ups to promote upcoming releases. Some Publishers will organise exciting tasks for the attendees, and if you take part, you could win some exciting goodies. One of my favourite tasks from last year was hosted by TeamBKMRK. It involved one of the lovely ladies at the TeamBKMRK booth donning a red cloak, and attendees had to seek her out.
Fairyloot, GeekyClean and some other bookish stores had booths last year too, and they had lots to offer, so it’s definitely worth your time to slowly work your way around the entire hall to see what every booth has to offer. On different days, they may have different items or activities to offer. You can see in the photo below that Fairyloot’s booth was very popular last year!
In little corners of the hall they will sometimes have memory or pin boards too so you can write little messages. Last year there was a Harry Potter themed bored and I took a picture of one message that I laughed a little too hard at.
H A V E F U N
This is the most important rule of YALC: have fun! Visit the booths, attend some panels and workshops if you can, and make the most of the weekend. You deserve it! Allow yourself to have a good time. There are always YALC staff around too, so if you ever have any questions or concerns, you can let them know.
If you get the chance, you can head downstairs to Comic Con too. Your YALC pass gets you access to Comic Con and even if you go down for just a few minutes, it’s well worth the visit to go see all the fantastic booths and cosplayers.
That’s it guys, that’s my 10 tips for YALC. If you’re attending this year, I hope you have a fantastic time, whether you’re only there for the day or for the whole weekend. If this is your first time going, I hope it’s as an enjoyable experience, one that will hopefully make you want to return.
Are you going to YALC this year? Are you going for one day or the whole weekend?
Be sure to check out my other social media…