Hello GHBers! Today we’re taking part in a blog tour (where lots of authors post on lots of different blogs to promote one event) for the amazing YAShot, which is a one-day event that takes place on Saturday 22nd October in Hillingdon, near London, with the support of the fantastic library service there. Over 70 (seventy!!) authors for children and teenagers will be attending, with panels galore on all kinds of topics, and four main venues. Think of it as a kind of Author Bonanza Day 🙂 You can find out all about it on the YAShot website – and if you’re on Twitter, follow the account @yashotmediateam to keep up to date with all the blog posts and latest news!
The wonderfully talented and incredibly busy Katherine Woodfine (author of the gorgeous The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and its sequel, The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth) is joining us today to give us her top tips for attending events just like this one. And Katherine should know – she’s one of the organisers of the amazing Young Adult Literature Convention (or YALC)! Over to you, Katherine…
Just over a month ago, I spent a hot, busy, but brilliant weekend in a London convention centre, in the company of over 80 leading young adult authors, dozens of YA publishers, thousands of enthusiastic readers – and a Harry Potter movie star. What was I doing? I was at YALC – the UK’s young adult literature convention – which takes place each year as part of the London Film and Comic Con.
YALC is a three day event packed with bookish talks, workshops, activities, and everything else that any fan of YA could possibly wish for. I’m lucky enough to run the convention on behalf of events company Showmasters and with the support of the UK’s fantastic YA publishers. I combine working on YALC and other children’s books projects with writing my own books – in particular The Sinclair’s Mysteries series, which I’m very excited to be talking about at YA Shot this year.
YALC has now been going for three years, and in that time I’ve learned a LOT about book events! For the YA Shot blog tour I thought I’d share a few of the most important things I’ve learned, both from YALC and from attending lots of other book events, both as an author and as a reader and fan.
Whether you’re new to attending a YA book event like YALC or YA Shot, or simply want some insider advice to help you plan, here are my top ten tips to ensure you’ll have a brilliant day:
- Plan in advance: Spend some time ahead of the event looking over the schedule and information available online. Decide how you will travel to the event, plan your route, and check for any disruptions. Look at the programme: which sessions do you want to attend, and which are your absolute ‘must-see’ authors? Make yourself a plan for the day, allowing time to get books signed, to move between venues, and to grab something to eat. Make sure you have your ticket to hand, as well as a map if there is one. A little time spent planning in advance will leave you free to relax and enjoy yourself on the day!
- Twitter is your friend: Make sure you’re following the event [Jo adds: or your mum/dad is, if you don’t have an account!], and any other key accounts on Twitter. For YA Shot, follow @yashotmediateam and wonderful organiser @AlexiaCasale. Keep an eye on the #YAShot hashtag for updates, tips and to find out who else will be attending. Look out on other social channels you use, such as Instagram and Snapchat, too – and of course, don’t miss the #YAShot2016 Blog Tour to find out about all the authors taking part.
- Think about your outfit: Make sure you’re wearing something comfortable that you feel good in! Comfy shoes are a must – you’ll probably be on your feet a lot, standing in signing queues or walking between different sessions or venues. Got a bookish t-shirt, Time Turner necklace, or awesome book-themed tote bag? This is definitely the time to break it out! Bookish accessories make a brilliant conversation starters.
- Bring snacks: There’s nothing worse than coming over all hangry in the middle of your favourite author’s signing queue – or being the person with a persistent tickly cough in the middle of a reading! Bring along a bottle of water and some snacks (cereal bars and dried fruit always work well) to make sure you avoid these kinds of emergencies. Also worth considering for your event survival kit: tissues, pain killers and plasters.
- Bring books: If you know that authors are going to be signing on the day, you can bring along your copies of their books to be signed. Don’t overload yourself though – lugging around huge bags of books is not going to be much fun. A backpack is much easier on the back and shoulders than heavy tote bags – and don’t forget to leave some room in your bag (or bring an emergency back-up tote) for any new books you might just happen to buy… which brings me to my next point:
- Bring some cash: OK, so however restrained you may try to be, you know you’re going to want to buy books. If you’re feeling a bit strapped for cash, you can always set yourself a budget in advance, so you know you can still treat yourself without going overboard. At most events, you’ll be able to pay by credit/debit card [Jo adds: or your parents will! hahaha], but it’s worth bringing along some cash as well, to be on the safe side.
- Charge your phone and bring along a back-up battery pack if you have one. If you’re anything like me you’re going to want to tweet lots of soundbites from the sessions you attend, and Instagram every book in sight. Save yourself the hassle of running out of battery by making sure your phone is fully charged, and bringing along a spare battery pack as a back-up.
- Chat to people. Speaking as someone who can occasionally (OK, frequently) be a bit of an introvert, I know that the idea of ‘making new friends’ when you go to book events can be somewhat daunting. But here’s the thing: people at YA events are genuinely lovely – so don’t be afraid to talk to the person next to you in a queue, chat to a friendly book publicist, or strike up a conversation about a favourite book. And who knows, that initial conversation really could lead to making a new friend.
- Seek out new ideas: One of my favourite things about listening to authors talk is that it always leaves me feeling inspired. Whether or not you’re interested in writing yourself, book events are wonderful places to get ideas, find creative inspiration and discover new book recommendations. Bring along a notepad and pen to jot down ideas that grab your imagination, or make notes on your phone. Keep your eye out for hands-on creative writing workshop sessions, which are a fantastic opportunity to get tips, ideas and advice from authors, and to put your own creative skills to work.
- Talk to authors: Finally and most importantly of all, never be afraid to say ‘hi’ to an author or to chat to them about their books! There’s really nothing nicer than someone coming up to you at a signing to tell you how much they’ve enjoyed a book you’ve written. Authors will be only too delighted to say hello; to sign books; to have a photo with you; or to chat about books and writing. Meeting readers is one of our favourite things!
Thanks so much, Katherine! And GHBers, if you go to YAShot, please let us know how it went!