Last year, I attended YALC UK for the first time, and I loved it so much that I’m going back this year and I thought I would share my tips picked up from my first experience of YALC last year to hopefully help out some of you who are going to YALC for the first time and are maybe a little nervous about it (don’t be, it will be fine!). So here we go, my top tips for anyone going to YALC for the first time:
- Get there early!
If you have special YALC tickets (which is what I would recommend as you still get into LFCC if you want to go to that) then the queue will be shorter, but it is still a pretty long queue so get there early to make sure you’re not at the end of the line. Last year there were lots of people with different passes in the queue so if you see anyone with YALC tickets heading towards the door, even if you’re a little further behind in the queue, follow them! They let people with the same passes in in groups, so just find people who have the same passes as you and follow them. No matter what though, you will be queuing for a while, so make sure you get there early, you don’t want to end up missing out on a signing or a talk because you are still in the queue. There is a separate entrance for YALC, so make sure to use that one rather than the LFCC one, you’ll know which one it is because it’s much smaller!
2. Bring your own food
Getting food there is extortionate, so trust me, it is a much better idea to bring your own food. It will also save on more queuing for food if you bring your own.
3. Bring lots of water (but keep it in a separate bag from your books)
It gets really hot inside the building, so make sure to bring enough water to last the day, but do not, I repeat do not, keep the water anywhere near your books. I had a disastrous incident with a bottle of water leaking over my books (luckily it was the ones I’d brought to be swapped and not the ones I brought to be signed) but still not good. So keep your water as far away from your books as possible!
4. Bring cash (and lots of it)!
Aside from the Waterstones stand, pretty much all of the stands are cash only, so make sure you bring a lot of cash. There are cash machines near the building (I think) but it’s better to just come loaded up with cash and enough to last you the day.
5. Plan who you want to see in advance
You will not be able to see everyone, so make sure you know who you want to see before you go and check out what times their signings and talks are and prioritize who you really want to see (also take into account that signing lines might be a little long so if there is a talk and a signing line that clash, you’ll have to priortize what you want more). Also maybe leave the talks a couple of minutes early to get to the front of the signing queue! Have a schedule and keep to it!
6. Take a camera or a phone
You will probably want to get pictures with your favourite authors whilst you’re there, so make sure to bring a camera or a phone. Also it’s not a terrible idea to make friends with the person in the signing line behind you, as if you ask nicely, they might take a picture of you and your favourite author together! Also make sure there is enough space on your phone/camera for pictures before you go, as there’s nothing worse than getting to the front of the signing queue, wanting a picture with your favourite author and finding out that there is no space on your camera or phone!
7. Plan out the books that you want to take and get signed and get them well in advance
Yes, you can buy books by the authors who are doing signings at the event at the Waterstones book shop but if you want to buy a lot of books to get signed there, it will be cheaper for you if you buy them all in advance than if you buy them there, since the Waterstones stall will charge full price for them and that will quickly add up if you’re buying a lot of books! Best to buy your books in bulk in advance and save your money for buying books from other stalls (which do have deals) whilst you’re there.
8. Follow the YALC twitter account
The YALC twitter account is a fountain of useful information about the event, so if you’re on twitter then make sure to follow their account as in the days leading up to the event you’ll be able to find out about any changes in schedule, signing limits for authors (there usually aren’t any, but sometimes if there are really huge queues expected then YALC will put a limit on the number of books you can get signed) and any questions that you have that I haven’t answered in this post, they will know the answer to!
9. Take extra bags
You will acquire a lot of stuff through the day, not just the books you buy and bring to get signed, you get given freebies through the day and basically it’s just a given that you will amass a lot of stuff, so it’s better to have extra bags and not need them, than not have enough bags and need more!
10. Bring a friend
These things are so much more fun if you have someone to share them with (I went with my friend Hannah last year and we’re going together again this year), you have someone to talk to in the queue, someone to fangirl with about books and just someone to have fun with. So find someone who loves books just as much as you do and bring them, you won’t regret it.
11. Check for engineering works before you go
London transport isn’t always reliable, so make sure you check that there aren’t any engineering works planned for the weekend of YALC and if there are then adjust your route accordingly.
I think that’s all the tips I have, but if anyone else who has been to YALC wants to chime in with advice of their own and if there’s any tips that I have forgotten then let me know. Is anyone else going to YALC? What days are you going? Who are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments!