This year was a strange year on a myriad of fronts, as for the first time, Hannah and I had also booked to go on non-consecutive days, the Friday and the Sunday as those were the days with the authors we most wanted to see (well Hannah wanted to see some authors on the Sunday, I was pretty much set with Derek Landy and Neal Shusterman on the Friday). Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back on the Sunday when I found out Hannah couldn’t make it, but after meeting Heather on the Friday, and seeing that there were some events in the Agent’s Arena that I wanted to go to, I decided that I would go back after all. I was actually quite grateful for the chance to rest my feet on the Saturday as when we do back-to-back days, I obviously don’t get that!
I headed out a little earlier on the Sunday morning as the event was due to start earlier, so I set off just before 10 and as with Friday, there was already a train at Clapham Junction when I arrived, so I just had to hop on. I have to say, I am very grateful for the direct Overground link between Clapham Junction and Olympia as it makes travelling to YALC so much less stressful.
I was quite surprised when I arrived to see quite a large queue there, as I had timed it so I would arrive after the event had started in the hopes of avoiding the queue. I definitely hope they go back to having separate entrances for YALC and LFCC next year because that was one of the main benefits of having a YALC specific ticket, and it was just a bit chaotic having everyone in together. Anyway, I knew I wanted to get food, so I made a quick pop across the street to the Tesco Express to grab another meal deal. It was clear the YALC/Comic-Con crowd had already invaded, as they were almost clean out of water, but thankfully there was one large bottle left. Then I headed back and joined the queue.
Thankfully, it was actually fairly fast moving even though it looked long and it was only about 10-15 minutes I was actually waiting in the queue before I got through the bag check, had my ticket scanned and hand stamped, and headed upstairs.
My first stop on Sunday was the BKMRK stand as I had seen that they were doing a proof giveaway for Ruta Sepetys’ I Must Betray You, which I had missed on Friday. Sadly, I missed it again, their post on Twitter had said it was going on throughout the morning but the proof must have been claimed pretty quickly! However, my stop there was not a total loss, as they had Collectors Editions of Crooked Kingdom out, which I was very excited to see, as I had not seen them there on Friday. I picked up one of those for my collection, and it came with this gorgeous little metallic Grishaverse bookmark to celebrate Shadow and Bone’s 10-year publication anniversary, which was lovely.
I then proceeded to once again wander round the stalls, as both the agent events that I wanted to do were in the afternoon, so I had a little time to kill before then. I wanted to find the VQ stand to see if I could get a ticket for Jacqueline Wilson’s signing as I would have loved to have met her, but from checking Twitter, it appeared they had all gone, so that seemed like a lost cause. I actually managed to get a proper look at the Harper Collins stall as it wasn’t quite as packed as it was on Friday, although there still wasn’t anything there I wanted to buy. Unusually for me this year, the three publishers that are usually sure-fire hits that I end up buying a lot from at YALC, Harper Collins, Hodder & Stoughton and Bloomsbury didn’t have anything I wanted this year.
I had a little nose around Waterstones, and I did spy one book that I’d seen on Friday that I thought was quite interesting, The Secrets Act by Alison Weatherby, but I noticed that the publisher was at YALC, so I decided to go to their stand and see if they were selling it there as I thought I might get it for cheaper. Sadly, it was only being sold at Waterstones, but I decided I wanted it enough to pay the regular price and headed back to the Waterstones stand to get it. The plus side to this was that it meant I filled up my Waterstones stamp card, so I now have a £10 balance to spend on a book of my choosing (which I will probably save up to contribute towards the next hardcover I want as this is what I always do!)
I felt like I stuck my foot in it slightly at the HarperVoyager stand, as a girl who was looking at the books there was looking at the Nevernight series and asking about the order of the books. The woman working at the stand wasn’t sure off the top of her head, but I knew, and I mentioned that Nevernight was the first book. That was fine, she seemed quite relieved I’d helped out, but then the girl asked me how I found it and I couldn’t lie….so I said I didn’t finish it, which was awkward! I did however, really talk up the Daevabad trilogy to her, so I hope that slightly redeemed my putting her off the Nevernight series. The woman at the stall was really lovely though, I asked her to tell me about Threadneedle, a book I’d seen at the Waterstones stand that I thought sounded really cool as it was published by HarperVoyager, and when she explained it was about (witches in modern day London), it definitely sounded up my street, so I ended up going back to Waterstones to pick up a copy. This made me feel much better about putting off that girl from buying Nevernight!
I spent a little while longer wandering around the stands, and I stopped at the Agents Arena to sign up for the 1-2-1 pitching sessions with an agent, as I felt like working on my pitching skills was not a bad idea, and I’d enjoyed doing it the last time I did it at YALC. I also stopped by Hannah’s (KingdomBooks) stall again just to see how things were going for her!
By this point, my feet were getting a little sore, and it was after 12 and I was hungry, so I scoured the chill out zone for an empty space and sat down to eat my lunch. There weren’t as many options I liked available when I got to the Tesco Express that morning, so I ended up with a Ham and Cheese sub, more fruit and water and the Ham and Cheese sub was a little overstuffed with mayo!
Following lunch, I decide to look around and see if I could find Heather, who I’d met on Friday as I knew she’d planned to be there for the whole weekend and I managed to find her, Malin and a girl called Andie browsing around one of the stalls. We headed off in search of food (for them, obviously I had already eaten) and they mentioned that they’d missed out on getting their books signed by Brigid Kemmerer as her line had been too long. I mentioned that I’d seen her signing at Waterstones earlier (sometimes authors do unofficial signings at Waterstones as well as their officially planned ones, the first year I met VE Schwab, I didn’t go to an officially planned signing, Hannah and I just came across her in Waterstones and I asked if she could sign my books!) so we headed back over to the Waterstones stall and luckily, she was still there signing. Heather and Malin were very lucky as they were the last couple of people to be able to get their books signed before Brigid and her team headed off for lunch! It was also quite fun watching Malin frantically scramble in her bag to find her books to get signed, there’s nothing that makes a bookworm move with more urgency than wanting to get their books signed by a favourite author.
By this point, it was getting fairly close to the time that I’d signed up to pitch to an agent in the 1-2-1’s in the Agent’s Arena so I left Heather and the others browsing and headed back over there. The agent I pitched my book to, Julie Gourinchas was really lovely, despite my being incredibly nervous and I think a little difficult to hear behind my mask! She gave me some really good advice about leading with my character’s emotional arc when I pitched rather than the world building which I had done initially, and that I should definitely watch Avatar: The Last Airbender as it sounded like a good comp title for my book given what I’d told her it was about (the similarities were completely accidental, I didn’t initially set out to write something similar to ATLA). I definitely still need to work on my pitch a lot, but I felt better for having done it as I think I have some useful things to improve for next time.
After the 1-2-1, I didn’t have too long to go before the How To Get A Job In Publishing Talk, which I had found out earlier in the day was due to start at 2pm rather than the 3pm time given on the schedule. I did have a quick scan around the floor for Heather and Malin, but as I really didn’t have much time to go before the talk, I ended up just heading straight back to the Agents Arena and taking a seat in there. It was nice to finally have a chance to sit down for a bit after all the walking around I’d done in the two days I’d been there! There were some nice American girls sitting next to me, and I heard them talking about S.A. Chakraborty, so I ended up chatting to them about the Daevabad trilogy, and recommending that they get The City of Brass.
We didn’t have to wait too long for Eleanor, Natalie, Stephen and Demet to come in and the talk to start. Eleanor, who was hosting the panel, introduced the panellists and then for the next hour we got to hear about their various roles in publishing and they gave advice about applying for jobs, ways to get into the industry and skills that would be useful to have. It was a really interesting talk; they were all really engaging speakers and it was clear how passionate they all are about what they do. It was especially interesting to hear Natalie and Demet talk as sales and production are two areas of publishing that I don’t know a huge amount about. I definitely felt like I had more knowledge by the end of the talk, and that I will be able to use what I’ve learned to hopefully make my next publishing applications stand out more.
After the talk they opened up the floor for questions, but I always feel a little uncomfortable asking questions in front of groups, so I spoke with Eleanor briefly after the talk was finished to ask a few questions about her work in marketing and publicity, just to find out a little bit more about her day-to -day work and what kinds of things would make an application for a marketing and publicity role stand out. Listening to her talk about her job definitely confirmed for me that this kind of role would be something I’d enjoy although I don’t think I’m quite artistic enough to design my CV to look like a book page as she mentioned someone else doing!
When that talk was finished, I was largely done for the day, the agents’ arena events were mainly what I’d come to YALC on the Sunday for so I decided to see if I could find Heather and hang out with her for the rest of the day. I wandered around, but I couldn’t find her anywhere, so I sent her a message to find out where she was, but before she replied, I managed to find her in the huge Alice Oseman queue. We decided to meet up when she was done, so whilst I waited, I browsed around the stalls some more, even though there wasn’t really anything left I wanted to buy, as there wasn’t much else to do.
After Heather was done in the signing queue, we met up with Malin and Andie and went around for a last scour of the stalls before we left, though that was really mostly Malin and Andie, as Heather and I had both agreed that we were pretty well done and ready to go home at this point (though Heather did end up completing her collection of the Shatter Me series as she saw they were on offer at the Electric Monkey stand). Whilst we waited for the others, we just stood and chatted for a bit, and got a picture together.
When the others were done book shopping, and had collected some raffle prizes they had won, they were still waiting on a couple more competition winners to be announced, but Heather and I both decided that we wanted to head off so we said our goodbyes and made a beeline for the lift (as Heather had a rather heavy suitcase to carry!).
Heather was waiting for Tom to arrive, so we stood and chatted for a bit whilst we waited and then when he arrived, we all headed over to the station together (thankfully for everyone, the Olympia Overground station is just opposite the convention centre). I had to go pretty quickly as my train was about to arrive, and the others after it had been cancelled, so I said my goodbyes to Heather and Tom and headed over to the other platform where my train was coming in.
In previous years, I’ve always ended up staying quite late on my second day at YALC as we always seem to end up with an author we want to see being one of the last signings of the day and then them having a really long queue, so usually, I’m not out till 6, and then it takes me a good couple of hours to get across London and get home, but this year as I didn’t have any signings on the Sunday and I now live in London, I was out and on the train home by just after 5 and back at my house before 6, which did make a nice change!
Despite my initial misgivings about going by myself, I ended up having a really lovely weekend and made a great new friend in Heather, who I’m definitely going to stay in touch with and hopefully we’ll be able to meet up at YALC again next year. I cannot wait for Hannah to be back with me next year though, it wasn’t the same without my bookish partner-in-crime!
Full weekend haul, including swag
So there we go, that was YALC 2022! What do you think of my haul? Have you read any of these books? Which should I prioritise to read first (excluding the pile on the left as those are the books I brought from home to be signed and I’ve read all except Thunderhead)? Anyone else at YALC last weekend? Did you have fun? Anyone now thinking of going to YALC next year? Basically talk all things YALC to me in the comments!