Hello, dear readers!
In anticipation of YALLfest, which is in a week from now, Emily and I have decided to share some tips we’ve learned from two (one) year(s) of going, and also some common-sense ideas which we try to apply to our own trip. Hopefully these help, or at least infuse you with deep, deep envy at the fact that we’re going to be in Charleston next week.
DO: Bring plenty of books
I mean, really, what else are you at YALLfest for, except to have your books signed? I personally always look at YALLfest as an opportunity to buy books I might otherwise get from the library/only have on my Kindle, and then look at the beautiful signatures as an added bonus to having them all in paper form in front of me.
DONT: Expect them to all get signed
Let’s be real here. You have approximately 12 hours to eat, hang out with friends/authors, see panel discussions, rock out to Tiger Beat, and get books signed on top of that. Sometimes you might be unlucky and be in the very back of the line. Sometimes your favourite author might get food poisoning. Sometimes you just don’t have enough hours in the day to see that last author. It’s OK–they’ll be back next year. And if you’re really desperate, they’ll have pre-signed copies to sell, I think.
DO: Have the essentials
This might be just me, but I’m a bit paranoid about having things that I need. My purse tends to be large enough to hold my journal/kindle, water bottle, snacks, umbrella, pocket knife, wallet, makeup and assorted other necessities. Emily, who is less of a pack rat, advises having a phone and portable charger, water bottle and snacks on hand. Seriously, this is just good advice.
DON’T: Bring enough supplies to go camping with
Despite my packrat tendencies, I draw the line at a purse that makes my arm ache–and keep in mind, you’re going to be standing around and carrying this thing ALL DAY. You might count that super-fancy camera as a necessity, but maybe draw the line at the first-aid kit. And hey, entertainment is free if you talk to the people next to you in line.
DO: Be aware of the back pain caused by lugging books around
As a college student who tends to only fit the minimum amount of textbooks in my fancy hiking backpack, I’m already dreading having 10+ books in a pretty shoulder bag–which, again, will be with me ALL DAY. Emily and I tend to reduce back pain by parking close and making regular excursions to change out books which have already been signed, doing our best to keep to a healthy weight on our shoulders.
DON’T: be one of those people with the rolling suitcases
YES, they help with the back pain. But they are more annoying than you can imagine–they take up hideous amounts of space, make a horrible noise on the gravel in the big lot, and there is nothing worse than having the person in front of you in line unload 15 books out of one of those things to get to that one special copy at the bottom.
DO: follow the rules of signing
There are lackeys who wait around to inspect the line, hand out sticky notes and pens, help people be more efficient, etc. You can save them and everyone else time by having the book open to the title page, having a post-it note with your name on said title page, and by following the 3-books at a time rule. Seriously, everyone will be grateful.
DON’T: expect to get more than 3 books signed at a time
There is a reason there is this rule, and it is not to torture you or personally punish you for owning EVERY Brandon Sanderson book ever published. It’s so that the author can have a reasonable hope of getting through most of a line which will run the entire length of the venue and possibly snake around the block. If you DO want to get every single Brandon Sanderson book signed, then have good friends with you who can stand with you and pretend the two of you just happen to have the same name.
DO: be assertive in line
There are people who are good at lines, and there are people who like to butt in, cut around, invite all their friends to their spot, etc. You’re doing you and everyone else a favour by keeping the line nice and orderly, and glaring pointedly at that person cutting in line. Also, you’re doing us a favour, which we appreciate.
DON’T: be a jerk in line
Don’t be that person who cuts in line, invites all of their friends to hang out with them in their prime spot in line, talks loudly, has a rolling suitcase, etc. Seriously, don’t be that person. You learned how to stand in line in Kindergarten, and it is a valuable skill.
DO: Enjoy the chance to chat with your favourite authors
One of the joys of YALLfest is not only getting all of your favourite books signed, it’s getting the chance to see some of your favourite authors in person. They are remarkably fun and funny people, and it’s polite to say something like ‘wow, I really loved your book!’ or ‘thanks so much’ while they’re signing. I think they like the interaction too.
DON’T: Expect to have more than a few minutes of time to do so
People try to keep the lines moving fast, so there’s not a ton of time to just sit around and chat. Polite comments are welcome, gushing about how the book changed your life might be OK in the right circumstances, an attempt at an actual conversation exceeding the amount of time it takes to sign your 3 books will be met with glares from everyone waiting in line.
DO: Sample the delightful macaroons from the French lady down the street
This is not a paid advertisement, but MAN are her macaroons good. Plus, there’s the delightful smell of the shop, and her Parisian air of glaring at every customer like they’re stealing her livelihood merely by being in the shop. It’s got great atmosphere, and better baked goods. You really should go there.
DON’T: Be that person who takes the last raspberry one
Looking at you, whoever did that two years ago. *glares*. (Actually it was our line minion, Bess, from year one and she gave us a bite each.) HOWEVER, that being said, there are plenty of really fantastic restaurants and shops in the area of YALLfest, so you should definitely seek out the gelato place and take advantage of these places for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks.
DO: Attend some author panels
I love the author panels, personally. I think it’s a nice way to get some insights into the brain of some of these people, as well as a way to get some writing tips from the pros. Also, it’s really cool to realise how much of a community all of these people are, and how comfortable they are in each other’s presence. I highly recommend going to at least one author panel.
DON’T: Feel like you have to attend them all
One or two panels are fantastic, but I find that after a while they get somewhat boring–plus, then you’re missing out on all of the other joys of YALLfest, like the signings and the macaroons and such. Pick the ones which most interest you, and leave it at that.
DO: Plan your day
I am fortunate that Emily is really religious about this, and keeps me on track. Whenever we get the full schedule we figure out which panels we want to attend, which signings and where, what time we’re going to eat lunch, whether there are any conflicts and whether or not people want to do different things. It makes things so much easier, and gives you a better chance of accomplishing everything you want to.
DON’T: Think it’s going to be perfect
Because it’s not going to be perfect. You might wait an hour in line to see Meg Cabot and not get books signed by her. You might forget how important lunch is until you’re hungry enough to commit murder. You and your friend might have serious disagreements over how important Meg Cabot was to your respective childhoods. Things happen. But dealing with setbacks responsibly is one of the hallmarks of adulthood–at least, I suppose it is.
DO: Bring friends/minions to help you
Friends are good. Friends who also like books are good. Friends who like books a little but are willing to come along with you, listen patiently to your rant about why Evie is the most annoying character in Lair of Dreams and hold your books when you have to pee are worth their actual weight in gold. Bring plenty of those kinds of friends. BONUS: They can help you circumvent the 3-book rule!
DON’T: Forget to buy them a thank-you macaroon
Because, really, they have put up with you for a long car trip, a sleepover-style confess-all evening, a desperate search for coffee, a freakout over the fact that Libba Bray acknowledged your existence, several hours of standing around in line, and they have probably gotten most of your Brandon Sanderson collection signed for you. The LEAST you can do for them is buy them a macaroon.
DO: Have fun and rock out to Tiger Beat!