It’s officially been one week since YALC, it’s crazy that the UK’s biggest young adult book convention has already been and gone. This time last week, I was in London with friends, filled with excitement about the event. And now, I’m already anticipating next year.
If you were following the YALC updates in the months leading up to YALC, then you know that a few things changed this year that quite a lot of attendees where unsure about. We weren’t sure if these changes would be good or bad when compared to previous years. If you read my previous post, My Guide to YALC, then you know that this was my third year attending. So, I thought I’d do a review of YALC 2018 and let you guys know what I personally thought of the changes and how I found this year compared to the previous two years that I’ve attended.
As always, please be aware that these opinions are my own and this is what I personally thought of YALC this year.
C H A N G E S
As mentioned before, YALC made some changes this year that were announced in the months prior to the event. The biggest and main one that attendees focused on was the fact that ARC giveaways were changing. Instead of publishers announcing an ARC giveaway suddenly on their Twitter and having attendees dash for their booth, publishers announced and posted about their ARC giveaways in advance so that attendees had plenty of time to get to their booths or plan their day around giveaways that they particularly wanted to take part in. This is the change I liked as it made it easier and more accessible for attendees to get to their booths in time for the giveaways. This is definitely something I hope publishers continue to do next year as it was a very fair way of letting everyone know which ARCS would be available and when. However, one aspect I was not too fond of, is the raffles.
Raffles are fantastic ways of keeping things fair for everyone in the sense that, everyone gets one ticket and an equal chance of winning. But, in the end, it’s not fair in the sense that someone who really, really wants the book may lose out to another who may just sit it on their TBR pile and never read it (don’t deny, we’re all guilty of it!) I’m personally not the biggest fan of the raffle idea because of this, and one other reason. One other very big reason. So many raffle tickets! By the end of each day there was a plethora of raffle tickets in each of my pockets. And, I had no idea which one was for which booth/ARC giveaway.
I think a good way to handle this in the future is for publishers to have a specific colour of raffle tickets, and stick with that colour, or they should have their own made with the publishing house on them (I don’t know if that can be done, but if it can? Hey, it’s an option.) Attendees could also be responsible for writing the name of the giveaway on the back of their ticket, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t reduce the amount of raffle tickets hanging out your pockets or getting lost in one of your numerous tote bags. I witnessed a friend, who stored her raffle tickets in her phone case, almost miss out on a giveaway because she had so many from different booths. She had the winning ticket too — thankfully she found it.
L A Y O U T
The layout at YALC this year was great! I really enjoyed how spacious it was and it allowed a lot of space for signing queues. At the back of the hall there was plenty of room for attendees to sit on the floor and each lunch, or in some cases, await to see what celebrities wandered out of the mysterious Green room. The layout of the booths this year were very easily accessible for all attendees too which was fantastic, and there was never really any large crowds or bottle necking issues. The largest crowd I saw was over at the Harper Collins/Harper Voyager booth for an ARC giveaway, but there was still plenty of space for attendees to move and await for their raffle numbers being called.
Below you can see some pictures I took of the layout. I genuinely hope the YALC team follow a similar floor plan for next year, if not the same one. As I said, I thought it was a really great, spacious layout and it really did accommodate the signing queues too.
B O O T H S
YALC always has a fantastic selection of booths, and this year was no exception, in fact, I think this year was better than previous years. We had the usual Waterstones shop, Publisher’s booths, self published author’s booths and bookish merchandise sellers. Some of my favourite publisher booths are pictured below, they were Harper Collins/Harper Voyager, Hodderscape, Team BKMRK and Gollancz. These were my favourites as they always had something going on, whether it was a little competition, Book or ARC giveaway, or they sold books that really caught my eye. I particularly enjoyed Hodderscape’s set up this year, as they had a whole table filled with props and one of their competitions included you taking a photo of one of their books with their props for a chance to win a set of highly anticipated ARCS. I thought this was a really interesting idea and allowed visitors to their booth to be creative and have fun whilst participating in a competition. The same can be said for Team BKMRK, who had some quizzes themed off of Leigh Bardugo’s books. If you completed the quiz correctly, you won a prize. Simple, fun and stress-free. Harper Collins/Harper Voyager did some fun raffles and Gollancz had a fun guessing competition, where you had to guess how many eggs were in a jar. They also had a box filled with white and red petals. The aim was simple, you close your eyes and pick out a red petal, and if you did then you got an arc. If you picked a white petal, then you were welcome to go to the back of the queue and try again. They did this same giveaway once every hour for five hours, and each time they gave away ten ARCs.
If you saw me at all this weekend, then it was most likely when I repetitively tried to win this competition. It took me eight tries, but I got an ARC in the end, and thank goodness I did as I was really starting to question my luck.
OhPandaEyes sold gorgeous and great quality bookish (and some Disney) themed jewellery for really affordable prices. I actually bought myself a lovely ‘Bone Season’ themed necklace, because I just couldn’t resist. They had necklaces, rings and earrings for you to choose from and their booth set up was very whimsical and pretty to explore. Mariyam and her boyfriend were so lovely to talk to as well, and always made you feel welcome at their booth.
BookishBurns was one of the candle stores with a booth at YALC this year (GeekyClean was the other) and if you know me at all then you know I love bookish themed candles. Not only do BookishBurns have the most delicious smelling candles I have ever had the pleasure of sniffing, but they also have the most aesthetically pleasing glitter scatter on top of the wax (I know that sounds weird, but seriously guys, just check out their candles, you’ll see what I mean). Their booth was also set up beautifully, displaying candles in a variety of scents and sizes. I ended up purchasing four 4oz candles and don’t regret it one bit. They smell incredible.
I really hope that more bookish merchandise stores come to YALC in the upcoming years as it really helps readers like myself to find out more about them and purchase some of their products. OhPandaEyes and BookishBurns are two booths I really hope to see returning next year.
S I G N I N G S & P A N E L S
I personally didn’t attend any panels this year. I always try to attend one or two, but unfortunately this year I just couldn’t squeeze any in between signings or giveaways. However, from looking at the YALC schedule, they had a wide variety of different authors on panels with fun topics and there were multiple times where laughter could be heard erupting from the panel area, so, I’m going to assume attendees had a jolly good time at the panels.
We were pretty darn spoiled with the selection of authors we had at YALC this year, Not only did we have best selling authors like Gayle Forman, Sara Holland and Sally Green, but we also had Samantha Shannon, Tomi Adeyemi, Lauren James, Becky Chambers and Melissa Albert. The signing queues were handled the same way as they were in previous years. If a queue was long, it got ticketed, and you simply had to wait on your number being called. I have no problem with this system, as it is the fairest way to keep a queue organised.
I particularly enjoy the signings at YALC, because there’s not usually a limit on the amount of books you can get signed, and you’re never usually rushed with the author either. It can sometimes be a little bit of a wait, but in the end, you get to talk to one of your favourite authors.
E X T R A S
Comic Con runs simultaneously with YALC, and with your YALC ticket you actually get access to Comic Con after 10am. We always make sure we have time to go downstairs and check out Comic Con each year, just to see all the cosplay and wonderful booths that are available. Compared to last year, the Comic Con area seemed a lot more calm. Last year you could barely move, and if you’re 5’3 in height like me, you couldn’t see much either whilst you wandered within a forest of cosplayers. We actually went downstairs this year and took our time looking around, and even got our picture taken at a Sherlock set which was quite fun. I highly recommend that whether you’re at YALC for one day or the whole weekend, you make sure you have some time to go explore Comic Con downstairs. It’s a whole other world down there, and it’s fantastic.
O V E R A L L
Out of the years I’ve attended YALC thus far, I’d say that this year I definitely enjoyed the most. The whole event seemed much more organised than it had in previous years and as I said before, the floor plan was a lot more spacious and easily accessible for all attendees. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed in the YALC goody bag this year, as it literally only contained a pamphlet. And we got it on the Sunday, so we couldn’t get it signed by any authors we met throughout the weekend which is something some attendees like to do and keep for memories sake. I’m not so much bothered about the contents of the goody bag, but next year I’d really like to see the totes getting given out on the Friday again so attendees can get them signed.
As for the changes that were made regarding the book and ARC giveaways, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the raffling system. I definitely understand the thought behind it and that it’s fair for all the attendees, but it’s also a little frustrating at the same time. My biggest issue with the raffling system is all the tickets. If YALC are going to continue with the raffles then I think they need to organise it a little better, e.g. assign publishers specific colours of raffle tickets or follow Gollancz’s approach and have a lucky dip system instead. As I said, I completely understand the thought behind it and I’d be happy if YALC continued with the raffle system, but I think there could be a better solution.
Now that YALC 2018 is over, and this year being one of the most fun yet, I’m already incredibly excited for next year. I’ll be counting down the days till tickets are announced and authors start getting revealed. Bring on YALC 2019!
Did you go to YALC this year? Did you enjoy it? What were your thoughts on it?
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