YALC!

Yes, it’s that time of year. 5 days it will be YALC 2019! If you follow YA twitter at all then you’ll be aware of this major event in the book calendar.
Young Adult Literary Convention is one of the biggest book events in the UK, 3 days of books, signings, panels, agent sessions, workshops, and more books. Its a book lover’s dream and as we’re now in the final countdown I thought I would let people know what to expect, what you should bring, and also a few tips from a someone who has been multiple times but also from a crew/volunteer point of view.

What to expect

  • LOT OF BOOKS – this goes without saying but there are a LOT of books on offer at YALC. There are loads of publishers all there with their bestsellers and brand new releases. Take your time to walk around and get your bearings first, they aren’t going to disappear in the instant you walk away from the table.
  • Panels – Make sure to look at the program and pick out a couple of interesting panels each day. Panels are a great way to sit and breathe and listen to your favourite authors talk about the thing that everyone there loves best – books
    • Personal opinion: Ben Aaronavitch is always great and his panels are more like a comedy show than an author panel. He might describe women in his books in a slightly uncomfortable and weird way but he definitely knows how to interact with a crowd
      • Favourite quote – ‘Yes I know there has been an attack in London, but what form would you need to fill out if you found a dismembered head?”
  • Signings – yes this is the moment where you get to talk to your favs, get photos, and get your books signed. Don’t worry about feeling nervous – almost all authors are introverts like you and want to hear about how much their book meant to you.
    • Personal moment – Last year I told Samantha Shannon I low-key hated her because of how young she was when she got her first book published. And that it was actually really good! I then followed it up by saying that the only redeeming light is it means it’s easy to find an author sub-30 for reading challenges which is a popular category. (She laughed and told me I wasn’t the first person to say that to her, and she would low-key hate herself too)
    • I spoke to Annalie Grainger ‘In Your Light’ last year (blog here) when she had no queue as she’d been there for a while. I had left my copy of her book in the hotel but wanted to tell her how much it had meant to me especially as it’s about separated sisters and my sister was at uni in Australia at the time, we had a great chat and at the end of it she took my address and send me a couple of book plates and a note to stick in my book.
  • Indie Authors – There are always a handful of independent authors with their own stands at YALC. GO TALK TO THEM. They are there for networking and making friends, and they have books that you probably won’t find anywhere else apart from the internet. I’ve got a couple of REALLY good books from them over the years and always look forward to going back and saying ‘hi’ before getting the next one.
    • Personal moment – A couple of years ago one of my friends was there talking to them so much they got her a chair to sit behind the desk with them and they all ate pizza together on the Sunday evening as things were starting to die down. (There’s a pizza express inside Olympia)
  • Workshops – there are various workshops going on throughout the day with limited places available where authors, bloggers, editors, publishers, etc sit down with you and work on various parts of the process. This year there is one a couple for bloggers that I’m hoping to go to.
  • Agent 1-2-1 – If you’re writing your own book, and you want advice, or want to know how to get into publishing etc then this is where you want to be. You get 5 minutes with an agent to discuss whatever you want and they’ll give tips on submission letters etc.
    • I was timing this session last year and picked up a few really good tips. If my book was anywhere near finished (or properly started rather than just notes) I would DEFINITELY make use of this time.
  • Queues – you WILL be queuing for a while, but TALK to people next to you instead of looking at your phone. The queues are mostly for author signings so everyone in that queue has at least one thing in common.
    • Personal note – I’ve made a few friends at YALC over the years from just talking to people and I’m looking forward to seeing them again this year.

 

What to bring

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All the books I’m bringing to get signed – I’m going on the Friday and bought a ticket for my sister on the Sunday (the payment was carrying around Priory to get signed for me)
  • Wheely suitcase! – I cannot stress this enough. You will be buying a LOT of books and be taking plenty with you to get signed. You need something to carry them all in that is easy to move around with.
  • Tote bags – This is just a second part of the wheely suitcase, but for quick and easy access tote bags are your friend. Previously a lot of publishing stall had their own bags that they were giving away but I don’t know if that’s going to be the case this year.
  • Books to get signed – be sensible about how many books you are bringing, are you really going to spend all day every day in the queues, if so that’s fine. But if you don’t want to that’s also fine. You’ll also need space to get put new books, so if your suitcase is full before YALC starts you might want to rethink it.
  • Snacks – it’s a LONG day and food at Olympia is expensive. There’s a tesco across the road but they sell out of snacks pretty quickly. Also you don’t want them all to be chocolate because it WILL melt (YALC is a greenhouse!)
  • Water bottle – see above point, it will be hot, and Olympia is expensive. However the food spots have all said they will do free water refills.
  • Lunch – see above
  • A fan – for obvious reasons
  • A camping seat/stool – if you’re physically not great being in queues all day cause of bad knees etc then a small camping seat is great. Most queues end up being on the floor anyway, but knowing that you’ve got a way to take the weight off your feet and not lose your space is a must.
  • Post-its & pen – I don’t care if your name is ‘Jess’ or ‘Ben’ PLEASE GET TO THE AUTHOR WITH A POST-IT WITH YOUR NAME ON. Because it just minimises the possibility of it being wrong, and the authors will check anyway. If you’ve EVER had to spell your name for someone before than this is of utmost priority.
  • Cash – Yes most stalls will have a portable card reader but it is dependent on Olympia’s wifi which is tempremental at best and with literally thousands of people trying to use it the chances of the card machine working first time is slim to none. Cash is the way forward and I don’t think there are cash machines inside the venue although there are definitely a couple as you come out of Olympia Station.
  • £5 notes – yes this falls under ‘cash’ but it deserves it’s own mention. I promise you that if you have a £5 then the crew will love you and forgive many many mistakes. These things are gold dust, if you don’t HAVE to use your £5 note don’t – HOARD IT.
    • SAVE THEM NOW. And then if you go again next year start saving them as early as possible.
  • External battery for your phone – you’ll be using your phone to keep track of various things on twitter and take pictures, you’ll need an external battery

 

Top tips as a previous attendee

  • Take cash with you to force you to actually know how much money you’re spending and stay within budget
  • Walk around the hall first to know where things are and to get a basic idea of how your day is going to go
  • Schedule in advance!
  • Take time to visit LFCC downstairs and look round the stands, a lot of indie authors/and comics are in the main LFCC (although they are not YA)
  • Artist’s alley at LFCC is always amazing! (Talk to the artists too)
  • YALC is ALWAYS BOILING HOT, be prepared for the weather.
  • DRINK LOADS OF WATER!!
  • DRINK MORE WATER! Seriously, you will need to be hydrated, that room is a sauna
  • Talk to people in queues.
  • Talk to people at the various stands, if you don’t know what to buy ask their opinion. I try and get at least 1 book from every stand and ask the booksellers which 1 that should be. It’s meant I’ve got a large variety of books over previous years.
  • If you’re doing ANY reading challenges take the list of various categories to fill out with you and ASK the booksellers- you’ll find by the end of the weekend that list will be mostly full and if they don’t have a copy of the book with them they’ll be able to recommend.

 

Top tips as crew

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Crew top! With the forecast being hot hot hot, I don’t think we’ll be wearing our hoodies this year.
  • There is now a Showmasters App – it doesn’t include YALC but if you have ANY questions about LFCC guests PLEASE look here first. I can promise you that all we’re going to do is look at the app ourselves.
  • Don’t kill the people at the sales desk if there is a sudden guest annoucement *coughDavidTennantcough* – seriously though, last year the sales desk found out about DT the same time as everyone else and the PB (Pit Boss) found out 30 seconds before hand. We understand that you guys want the photos but we all crew/volunteer because we’re fans just like you. Swarming the sales desk doesn’t help anybody and means they crew are more frazzled than they already were.
  • LFCC Sale desk – on the topic of sales desk you only need to go here if you want to book a talk or photo shoot, and please know who you want before you get to the front of the queue. This is where the app should be extra useful because you can buy from there
  • Green room – the LFCC green room is in one of the corners of the YALC floor, so chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of the big names around. Don’t crowd them! Last year Jason Mamoa had his own staircase which was right next to the YALC talk stage so he was seen around and about and was happy to talk to people, but that’s not always the case. If they’re going up to the green room they’ll be on their break so being swarmed by people is not what they’re looking for. However, if they are wandering the YALC floor as a few do every year then talk to them, and make sure to take photos – but not in a creepy stalker way!
  • LFCC: Virtual Queuing – This works by you going to the guests autograph desk and a member of crew will give you a piece of paper with the guests name on and a number, then it’s just a case of going back throughout the day to see what number they are at. It tends to go in about 20/30’s and it works really well and means you are often only physically queuing for 15-20 mins. The trick is to run around the hall at 11 (when YALC tickets give entry to the main hall) and get as many of the virtual tickets as possible and then go back up to YALC and come down an hour or two later – making sure to miss the lunch break.
  • YALC: Virtual Queueing – We only do this when the physical queue is becoming a literal hazard and is just too long, and this is mostly a watch and see decision although there is always a couple of guests that need it. Maggie Stiefvater’s queue was a genuine fire hazard it was so long so a VQ system was installed – these will often be on post-it’s or on VQ tickets for other LFCC guests – basically whatever the Pit Boss has to hand. A VQ is all about making sure people aren’t spending their day in the same queue and although you can never tell for certain my instincts say that this year they’ll be a VQ for Samantha Shanon, Alice Osman, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Lucy Prowie (she set up #UKYAchat while still in secondary school and was writing her book while doing her A levels and all of UKYA twitter is insanely proud of her), and V E Schwab.
    • Personal note – I worked OzComicCon where they don’t have VQ and I had people in a queue 2 hours before the guest (Jewel Staite – Friefly) showed up for signing. When she went for her talk I had to number all of them so they could go and then MAKE THE SAME QUEUE AGAIN when it finished. VQ is definitely the way to go!
  • Please don’t be angry if a crew member jumps in front of you in a queue – we get limited breaks to run and get our photos so we get fast tracked to the front of the queue ahead of the diamond passes etc as we need to get back to our spot.
  • Have fun and talk to us – seriously. We’re all there in our blue tops because we love cons and are just as geeky as you. If you have a question we are there to help, but the app is the first place to check. However please don’t hassle the red tops – these are the Pit Bosses and work a lot harder than the rest of us and are there to make sure that the whole section runs smoothly.

 

The main point is to just ENJOY YOURSELF.

YALC is amazing and I came back with 43 books last year. I’m not looking to beat myself this year as I still haven’t read them all but I’m looking to have a great day muggling on the Friday before crewing Saturday & Sunday.

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I should have a lanyard or a badge with my blog name on as well, so if you see me say hi!
I can’t find a photo of me in my crew top so here’s one of me on the day I received my Queen’s Guide

Please let me know if you’ve got any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them from both an attendee and a crew POV
Rea

 

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