So, YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) is over for another year. If you follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I was finding it difficult to summon up any enthusiasm in the weeks leading up to the event. I’d found last year’s very frustrating and as the forecast temperature kept rising and rising, I was getting more and more anxious that the entire weekend was going to be a disaster. Fortunately, once I finished work for a two week break, I felt much more positive and in the end I really enjoyed myself.
Partly this was because I actually took my own advice this year. I stayed hydrated and fed, I only took eight books for signing, which were spread over the weekend, and I had a much better idea of what I wanted to do and see. It helped that I didn’t want to see most of the really high profile authors and that I purposely did most of my book buying/acquiring on Friday. I’m pretty certain that by the time I left Olympia on Saturday, I’d seen more panels this year than I did in the last two years combined, and I still had another day to go!
The other things that helped were the VQ (virtual queue) system and the publishers’ move to raffles for proofs. Neither of these things were across the board, and the VQ system in particular was flawed because it was announced so close to opening, but it was better. There are a couple of publishers who need to rethink their strategies however. I was lucky enough to be there early enough on the Friday to get the proofs I wanted of Girls of Storm and Shadow, The Beautiful *and* Infinity Son, but neither of the systems used for those proofs was fair and I’ve got to admit that I do feel a bit guilty for benefiting from them.
So what did I actually do at YALC? Well, I bought a lot of books, obviously, but on Friday I went to Literary Galaxy‘s bookmark making workshop, which I loved, followed by the UKYA Blogger Award workshop on b/vlogging tips and the It’s a #life panel. I then got my books signed by Tom Pollock, Yasmin Rahman and Karen Gregory. I’ve met Tom and Karen a few times now and they are two of the loveliest people you could ever meet, and Yasmin was also delightful. I loved chatting to all of them about their books! I wish I’d gone to Akemi Dawn Bowman’s workshop, Self-care is a superpower, but alas I did not. I did make it to the UKYA Blogger Awards on Friday evening though, and was delighted to see friends win. Congratulations to everyone nominated, because you’re all brilliant!
Saturday was not the best day for me, as I ended up having to leave early, and I missed one of my most anticipated signings, and a panel I really wanted to attend as a result. But these things happen, and I still got to see two amazing panels – Mystical YA and Celebrate every body (if you ever get the chance to see Dhonielle Clayton speaking, do grab the opportunity with both hands, because she’s brilliant). I also got my copy of The Paper & Hearts Society signed by Lucy Powrie, but I was about to pass out at the time, so it wasn’t the best of circumstances, and definitely not the way I wanted to meet someone I’ve been chatting to online for a while now!
I also ventured down into LFCC on Saturday, which was something I utterly failed to do last year, and it was a nice break, even though the heat was much worse down there. I did find my favourite geeky jewellery makers, but I was good and I only bought one necklace. LFCC is too busy for me though, and I admire the people who spend their entire convention there, because I quickly got very frustrated and wanted to return to YALC!
My original plan for Sunday was to have a nice, leisurely start to the day – until I remembered I needed a VQ ticket for Natasha Ngan and realised I needed to be as early as possible. Fortunately I was successful, and managed to get a really early number, which made my afternoon a lot easier. I also got to three panels – New voices in YA fantasy, Master your own journey and Monsters and their makers, which was one of my favourite panels. I also did something I’ve never done before at YALC, and went out for my lunch and it was great! Fresh air and a bit of a break did me the world of good, and I need to remember to try it next year too.
Sunday, of course, is the day that the publishers realise they don’t want to take all their stock away again, so sell it off. I took advantage of this and spent much more than I planned to. But it doesn’t count if it’s books, right?
The best thing about YALC though, is getting to see all my friends and people I’ve only chatted to online. I met new people in the entrance queue, and others in the signing queues. It’s always so lovely to see everyone, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes here and there and it’s definitely the best part of the weekend! I had such a good time this year, even though I absolutely wasn’t expecting to. I only planned to meet eight authors and I was worried I wouldn’t be interested in the panels because I didn’t know the people on them. But it was actually nice to not feel pressured to see something because of the authors involved, and actually, even though I didn’t plan to meet them, there were still a lot of my faves there and it’s always lovely to see people like Melinda Salisbury and David Owen on panels.
I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to go next year. I’m leaning towards yes, but we’ll see how I feel nearer the time. YALC still needs to make improvements, and some of the attendees need to learn how to behave decently, but I’m always hopeful these things will change. We’ll see how it goes.
If you want to read about other experiences at this year’s YALC, check out the links below. All the posts are great, but I absolutely recommend Jenn’s post about the accessibility problems.
Let me know if you’ve written your own post on YALC, and I’ll add it to the list!
And, because it has to be done, the obligatory (blurry) Jason Momoa photo: