From July 27th – 29th, hundreds of people will be gathering at London’s Olympia to attend London Film and Comic Con, which also happens to be the home of YALC, the UK’s first Young Adult Literature Convention. YALC started in 2014 and over the years has hosted numerous bestselling authors such as Cassandra Clare, V.E. Schwab, Patrick Ness and Holly Black. With Tomi Adeyemi, Charli Howard, Danielle Clayton, Becky Chambers, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Juno Dawson and even Tom and Giovanna Fletcher being just a few of the authors attending this year, the line up for YALC 2018 promises an incredibly exciting weekend for attendees.
Although YALC is a relatively calm and relaxed environment compared to the downstairs frenzy of LFCC, it can definitely be overwhelming at first, especially if you’ve not attended a similar event before. So, with YALC weekend fast approaching, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.
- First and foremost, (and at the risk of sounding like your nagging mother) comfort is key! Depending on when you arrive, you could potentially be on your feet from 10am – 7pm (not including the time you might spend queuing to enter) and I promise you, if you’re not wearing the most comfortable shoes possible, you will feel it. Over the past few years, there hasn’t been much seating at YALC, bar the occasional deckchair and the audience seating for panels. So although you’ll have time to take the weight of your feet on the floor somewhere, comfortable shoes are an absolute must. As for clothing, again, make sure you’re comfortable. The past few years the weather has been wonderful for YALC and thankfully the hall has been kept relatively cool but when planning what you’re going to wear, just keep in mind you’ll be in a room full of people, in the middle of summer, potentially carrying a lot of books. And to all those cosplaying for YALC and LFCC, serious props to you.
- Whether planning fills you with thrill or dread, it’s undoubtedly worth it. Especially if you’re wanting to make sure you cram in as much as possible. The schedule for all three days, including author signing times, workshops and panels, is already available. So whether you want to arrive with a meticulously planned personal schedule, or just an idea as to who and what you want to prioritise, jotting a few things down so you don’t miss anything is definitely a good idea.
- The YALC floor has a small café and LFCC offers a few different places to grab a bite to eat or drink. However, considering the number of people attending, the queues tend to be rather long and the prices pretty high. If you can, bringing your own food and drink into the event is probably ideal. It saves you time, money and means you have something on hand no matter where you are or what you’re doing. There’s a Tesco opposite the Olympia perfect for picking up lunch and some snacks, although you may want to get there earlier in the day to avoid being left with the food no one else wanted…
- Pack light but not too light. There’s always a feeling of needing to bring everything for every kind of situation to these kinds of events. However, your back will thank you immensely if you pack as light as possible. You’ll want to bring the essentials e.g. money, phone, tickets, food and water etc. Also, if possible, a portable charger/battery pack is a must. In terms of money, unfortunately not all stands at YALC and LFCC take cards (although most do), so it’s definitely worth bringing some cash if you’re planning to spend.
- Turn those Twitter notifications on. If you’re wanting to get your hands on some exciting early book proofs and ARC’s, having Twitter notifications for publishers turned on is a game changer. Publishers tend to tweet out when and where they’re doing their proof drops and giveaways but copies are often limited, so if you don’t get notified the moment they drop, you risk missing out.
- If you’re travelling with luggage, when packing, remember to factor in the possibility of leaving with a significantly larger number of books than you arrived with. The last thing you want to do is have to buy another suitcase (trust me, it’s happened.) It’s also useful to know that there’s a cloakroom on one of the LFCC floors that accepts luggage.
- Take a moment to explore the LFCC floors. With cosplayers walking the floors, stalls selling everything from fandom merch to comics and multiple celebrity signings, with the 2018 guest line up including Megan Fox, Jason Momoa, Paul Wesley, Katie Leung (Cho Chang from Harry Potter!) and Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli and Aly Michalka from iZombie (yes, THAT Aly from THE iconic Disney duo, Aly & AJ), checking out LFCC is a must. It can be a little overwhelming at first, as it’s a lot busier than the YALC floor, but it’s definitely worth the visit.
- Have a good time. Seriously, just have fun. Listen to authors share their wisdom during panels, take part in the workshops, meet the writers of your favourite stories and soak up the love and passion for books you’ll be surrounded by. Chat to people in lines, whether you’re going alone or not, the lines are a great place to meet new people. Even if it’s just a little small talk, the fact that you most certainly share a passion for books means you have an instant and wonderful conversation starter. So, get inspired, feed your passion for all things bookish and most importantly, enjoy yourself!