YALC Guest Post by Francesca Burke

Hello my fellow little munchkins. How are you all doing? I am doing well. I am soooooo deeply sorry for taking such a long break.

I know that I promised not to do it again but it had to be done as I was catching up on all of the review request readings, I had to get a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration, I started both college and high school back up and I am doing college applications while also studying for and taking the SAT and ACT. I really haven’t had that much time to breath so that is why I have been drafting up all of these blog posts.

I have about 12 blog posts all set up which I am planning to spread out throughout the next couple of months since that they are all reviews and I don’t want you all to be swarmed with 12 reviews at once.

Anyways, why don’t we get into this lovely guest post what was written by Francesca Burke. Also if you want you can check out an interview that I did with her HERE.

What to Expect from YALC

YALC the London Film Comic Con bit

If you’ve seen the 8373626262 blog, Twitter and Instagram posts about YALC over the last few years and decided that 2020 is the year you’re going to attend, then I have two things to say to you: one, CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR GREAT LIFE DECISION, YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT and two, clear a space on your bookshelf now.

I’ve been to YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention, not that anyone ever calls it that) twice. The first time was in 2016, to see Maggie Stiefvater. I hadn’t heard of YALC at all until Maggie announced she was going, and I don’t know what I was expecting. YALC is held the same weekend and at the same venue (Olympia) as London Film and Comic Con. LFCC is on the first two floors, YALC on the third. LFCC is cosplay-queues-for-autographs-thousands-of-people crazy busy. When I first walked into YALC, it was… quiet. Hundreds of people were there, but the area is quite spaced out, so it doesn’t feel busy. Everyone was reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which had just been released, which explained the eerie hush.

It got livelier.

How YALC is Set Up

YALC is divided into a few different areas: the agents’ arena for panels and discussions on how writers can get agents or work in publishing; main panels with authors and illustrators; workshop areas; a chill out zone and a space for authors to do signings. There are also dozens of stands where publishers sell their books for ridiculously good prices. They also do giveaways to win ARCs or merchandise, and there are often bookish businesses there too, like Fairy Loot.

What to Take to YALC

Meeting Maggie

There are a few things you need for a happy, productive YALC: comfortable shoes, a refillable water bottle (the café there will fill your bottle up for free), snacks, a bag or suitcase and spending money. I couldn’t figure out why so many people were lugging little carry-on suitcases around with them, until I realised that they use them for carrying all their books! I picked up 3 or 4 books this year, plus tonnes of samplers and business cards. I didn’t spend a lot of money, because as I said before, it’s a great place to pick up books at a low price. That being said, I could easily have spent hundreds of pounds. As well as publisher stalls, there’s a Waterstones mini-shop where you can buy books by the different panelists and authors, although they are priced at the usual RRP.

The café at YALC isn’t bad but isn’t cheap, so I recommend taking food with you—it’s allowed, so take advantage. You’ve got to keep your strength up for all those book signings!

Surviving the Day

YALC Maggie queue

Like all conventions, YALC starts early and ends late. Doors open at 9am and close at 6pm, which is a long time to be walking around, queuing for signings and chatting to stallholders. Pace yourself—especially if you’re doing all three days!

Take your time at the different stalls, look at the schedule to decide which panels you definitely want to attend. Organisers stamp your hand on entry, and you can go in or out of the building as much as you like. I spent half an hour in a café opposite Olympia, just getting some space from all the people. You can also go down to LFCC from about midmorning onwards, which is a really nice way to break up the day (the artists’ alley is really worth visiting, as there are loads of brilliant illustrators and artists there).

Bear in mind that the chill out zone is usually just a big empty space that people can sit in, which is a) not that comfortable and b) not always that accessible if you have mobility issues. I think it’s something they’re working on, but to be honest I would be tempted to bring a cushion next time. If you’re someone with a chronic illness or health issues, get in touch with the organisers in advance to find out what they’re doing to improve accessibility.

My final bit of advice for attending YALC: chat to people! Everyone who attends is a huge book nerd and just as excited to be there as you are. Both times I’ve been to YALC I’ve gone by myself, but there’s no shortage of people to talk to. It’s one of my favourite social occasions, actually—I always come away excited to read more, to write more and to keep up with the YA community throughout the year.

Are you going to YALC next year? Maybe I’ll see you there!

Francesca Burke’s novel The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes is available on Patreon now. You can read her blog, Indifferent Ignorance, here.


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