With YALC less than two days away, excitement levels are reaching peak levels. Hotels are booked, trains are scheduled, and we’re ready to meet authors, hang out with friends, and pick up more books than we can carry.
This will be my third year at YALC, but for anyone going for the first time, it can be a daunting experience. Looking back at my first year, there were things that I definitely would have done differently, it I’d known more about how the convention worked. So, I’ve put together a few tips on how to attend YALC like a boss.
1. Take a backpack rather than a shoulder bag
Last year I took a shoulder bag to YALC and amassed numerous other canvas bags over the course of the weekend. The canvas bags were useful for distributing weight, but definitely not as good as a backpack. By the end of the weekend my dominant shoulder was pretty sore, and I was wishing I could just levitate all my books around with me.
2. Turn on your Twitter notifications for the publishers/imprints attending
This was something that I only did last year, and I wish I’d done it during my first year at YALC too. Publishers often use Twitter as a means of announcing news and ARC drops, so if you see their tweet straightaway, you can heard to the stand and try to get an ARC. There were a few problems with this arrangement last year, as some publishers put time constraints on their ARCs, so anyone who couldn’t get to the stall quickly or didn’t see the tweet ended up missing out. Thankfully, YALC has recognised the inherent ableism in this issue, and has tried to organise things slightly differently this year to make ARC drops fairer for everyone. It’s still worth having your notifications on, though, because you can keep up to date with what’s happening right across the convention floor.
3. Keep a print out of the schedule and map, or have them saved to your phone
This was a godsend last year because there weren’t many schedules pinned up on the floor, so we had to keep checking the paper printouts to make sure we got to panels and signings on time. This year YALC has released a map in advance, as well as the schedule, so you can see what the floor looks like and plan accordingly. Definitely keep both to hand though in case you’re plans change!
4. Take plenty of water and snacks
The convention areas is spacious but it can still get pretty warm (especially as it’s meant to be 28C for most of the weekend this year), so make sure you have a bottle of water in your bag that you can fill up. There’s a cafe on the floor, and more than one place to eat downstairs in LFCC (London Film and Comic Con), but they can be quite pricey if you’re on a budget and not ideal if you have dietary requirements. The best thing to do is take plenty of snacks that can withstand a little warmth and jostling (if you accidentally crush them with six books like I did last year), and make sure to keep well fed and hydrated throughout the day.
5. Chat to strangers if you feel comfortable
The wonderful thing about YALC is that everyone is incredibly friendly and we’re all here for the same thing – books. If you’re standing in a queue on your own, turn around and chat to the person behind you or ask which books they’ve got so far. I know not everyone is comfortable doing this – so you do what’s best for you – but if you don’t mind chatting to people, you might meet someone new and end up making a friend of life. That’s exactly what happened two years ago with Hollie @hollieblog and me, and now she’s one of my best friends and basically my wifey for life.
6. If you see someone you know from Twitter, go up and say hello
Following on from #5, if you see someone you recognise and feel comfortable approaching, why not go say hello? I’ve done this before and people have always been thrilled that I recognised them and watch their YT videos or follow their blog. I’ve also had other people come up to me before and, honestly, it’s the best feeling to meet someone new who’s seen your platform online and likes your content. (If you’re reading this and going to YALC, please come say hello if you see me!)
7. Watch out for the reductions on books on Sunday evening
Sunday is the last day of YALC and in the evening publishers will sometimes reduce books already on offer even further. Last year, books like Daughter of the Burning City were available for £5 all weekend (still a cracking deal), then on Sunday evening, the publisher reduced them to £1. So, if there’s a book on offer that you’re eager for, and you’re staying until Sunday evening, hold out for any potential sales deals.
8. Pop downstairs to LFCC
LFCC can seem like an intense hive of activity in comparison to YALC (it’s bigger, busier, and noisier), but it’s a great place to get manga and graphic novel deals, pick up merch, spot your favourite actor, or get a photo with a cosplayer. Last year, I went down to LFCC and picked up Monstress vol 1 for only £7. I also cried over some Yuri on Ice merch and almost died of joy when I saw a 10/10 Captain America cosplayer. Would highly recommend going downstairs.
9. Take cash in case not every stall accepts card payments
Some stalls in YALC (and in LFCC) don’t have card machines, so make sure to get some money out and have cash on hand in case that’s all they can accept. The last thing you’d want would be to find the perfect piece of merch/swag and then not be able to buy it!
10. Watch out for actors from LFCC passing through YALC
Last year Benny Cumbers was the big name at LFCC and he was downstairs doing signings on Saturday and Sunday. But he must have had a dressing room or break room on the YALC floor, because we we’re all minding our own business listening to a great panel, and suddenly there he was. Walking past. The entire audience went silence for a moment (as did the authors on the panel) then burst in to gasping/yelling/cheering as he went through a fire exit door. And this didn’t happen just once. But five or six times. Now, as far as I know BC isn’t attending this year, but other big names like Matt Smith and Christopher Eccleston are, so watch the floor carefully in case you see a familiar face walk past.
So those are my ten tips for how to boss YALC 2018. Are you going this year? Leave me a comment and let me know so I can look out for you!