Some of you may already know this (through my Instagram or from me just chatting with you recently) but I visited Charleston, SC for a bookish event on November 12th! My feet and arms are actually still a little sore from Saturday (lol) but the trip was so worthwhile because I got to meet many wonderful authors and hang out with the coolest bookworms.
This was my second year attending Yallfest, the biggest YA book festival and event in the southeast US. I want to say the level of excitement was about the same as last year, and the turnout of people attending and participating were a lot higher, which was to be expected since this event only grows each year.
Since I had already gone in 2015, I had the routine down to a tee this year. Driving and parking was so much easier. (Though I’ve been to Charleston many times before I had never driven there myself. So it was a bit of a struggle with the congested streets to find a parking garage last year.)
I also learned my lesson and didn’t bring a book bag. I do think it’s an absolute must that attendees bring something to carry their books in, such as a backpack, tote, or even suitcase (don’t worry people actually bring wagons of books to this event-it’s pretty intense). However, if you plan to drive there like I did and find a parking space near the venue, you can easily go to your car to exchange and get books throughout the day. But I must say this only works well if you can coordinate these mini runs. Personally, I really liked this technique because it really saved my back. I would only carry about five books at a time, which wasn’t any trouble at all, and after each signing I tried to use my time efficiently so that I could make a trip to the car to exchange it for another set of books for the next signings. I did this about twice in the day. Like I said, it may not be practical for some, but this method gave me a much better experience because I was more comfortable as I was walking around.
Oh! Plus, throughout the day it’s very unlikely for you to not get free totes along the way to signings and panels. So you’ll end up with more bags than books by the end of the day anyway. (I literally had a huge book bag and 5 totes to lug around last year hence the body aches the following days.)
Also, this year was much more meaningful with signings for me. Because I took a long hiatus from reading during high school and the beginning of college, I wasn’t up to date with new authors that wrote YA fiction. It wasn’t until I started blogging early 2015 did I come to learn about these authors (such as Rainbow Rowell, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, etc). So the author line up from last year had a lot of familiar names but only a handful were ones that I had read books by them. And since I wanted to see as many authors as I could, all the while trying to avoid picking those that I read their books pre-2010, I decided on authors of books I’d already owned (regardless if I read their books yet) to get signed. (Man, what a wordy sentence. I hope I made my point…) I was somewhat greedy, and didn’t want to waste the opportunity of getting to meet those authors even if I hadn’t read their books. (Honestly, it was only three authors that I did this: Alexandra Bracken, Renée Ahdieh, and Victoria Aveyard. This proved to be a smart move since both Bracken and Aveyard became “wristband authors” this year where only a limited number of readers could get the chance to meet them if they had a wristband.) I was still able to make great conversation, but because this year I only chose to meet authors where I’ve read nearly all their published work (and quite recently)… I was able to have much more meaningful, memorable conversations.
Anyway, I don’t want this post to be just text… so like last year’s Yallfest blog post, I will continue to recount my fun day in pictures and captions from here on. Hope you guys enjoy!
Unfortunately because I wanted to talk to Sarah Dessen, I wasn’t able to meet Adam Silvera which was a huge bummer. However, my friend who got her copy of MHTN signed was able to get mine as well. I foresaw the time conflict and potentially missing his time slot, so I did write him a small note saying that I loved Aaron’s story so much. And he took the time to write me a nice message which was so sweet of him. T.T I really wanted to attend his closing keynote but they wouldn’t let me purchase tickets at the door. They had to be pre-bought. >.< Though, I did get to see him later in the day from afar. (I really tried to be as un-creepy as I could, I promise.)
Oh and Ryan Graudin also created a fantastic guide for people that have never visited Charleston before. It’s just a snapshot of what you could do while you’re there. You can take a look here:
And that sums up my 2016 Yallfest experience! As you could probably tell, I had a blast. I highly recommend you guys to visit downtown Charleston, SC (a gorgeous town full of history) and attend Yallfest if you ever get the chance. You’ll have the opportunity to meet amazing authors, get your books signed by them, attend fun panels, and obtain free stuff galore. The only downside is that it’s difficult to manage doing everything in one visit, but that’s why it should be a thing where you attend multiple times if possible. Personally, I don’t mind not getting to go to panels and snagging free stuff, since my main priority is always just meeting authors and getting my books signed. ^.^
Lastly, I’ll end this post with a some tips that I think would be helpful for those that plan to make a trip to Yallfest someday!
- plan ahead and make a schedule by looking at the scheduled events and author lineup prior to going
- check the updates from Yallfest for any lineup changes (sometimes authors can’t make it), ticket sales for panels and keynotes, signing information (like how you can only get three books per author to get signed and that you need to leave a sticky note with your name (or whoever you want the author to personalize the book to) on the page where they’ll sign. This makes the signing process faster and more efficient.), and special restrictions (some popular authors require that you have a wristband to meet them and there are only a limited number of wristbands that are given out at a certain time and place).
- bring warm clothes and have an umbrella handy (SC weather is super unpredictable and we get chilly Novembers)
- don’t forget portable chargers because you may be taking a lot of photos, which can totally eat up the battery
- keep in mind, that you shouldn’t expect that all things will go as planned (for example, sometimes signings can take a little longer than expected), just enjoy yourselves and have fun!
- Not a tip but do remember to support Blue Bicycle Books by buying/ordering their books at the tent or in the store because they’ve done so much to make this event successful. The store is the hub of where Yallfest mostly takes place. Plus, we should #keepindependentbookstoresalive.
And that’s all I have. Thanks for reading and/or taking look at the pictures, everyone. 🙂