How To YallFest: A YA Book Festival

YallFest is my favorite bookish event of the year. Located in the historic town of Charleston, South Carolina, readers gather to meet popular authors. The festival will be held this year on November 9th and 10th. The event is free, so just show up on the 9th ready to run to your first signing or panel.

This festival runs a bit different from other festivals and cons. The event itself is free, however, you can purchase tickets to specific panels. None of the author signings are ticketed. On occasion, wristbands are handed out if you arrive early. I made sure to be at the first signing of the morning two hours before it was scheduled, especially if it was a high profile author.

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Photo of me from the 2016 YallFest. Yes, I am wearing a backpack, holding two bags, and a suitcase full of books!

I would bring cash because tons of books are sold at Blue Bicycle Books and in the adjacent parking lot beneath a large tent. All the books by attending authors are sold here, along with extra signed copies. This is a great place to look for signed books if you were unable to make it to a particular author’s signing.

I would suggest limiting the number of panels you attend. Panels take up a lot of time. Since this festival is only two days, the time for signings goes by very fast. Sometimes you might wait up to three hours for a particular signing, so just keep that in mind when you are scheduling your days. One panel that I’m sure to attend is the Ya Smackdown event on November 10th at 6 pm. The ticket for the YA Smackdown costs $14.14.

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My sister, Victoria Aveyard, and I in 2016. Bottom right photo features part of the line for Victoria’s signing.

YallFest refers to the signing and panel section of the event as a “crawl.” Be aware that the signings and panels are not located in the same place. You’ll have to look up where each author/panel will be held and at what time. *Check the morning of the event because they are subject to change. Be prepared to do a lot of walking. Authors and panels are often held within shops, libraries, and other public places spread out around King Street and the adjoining areas.

Plan your days! Seriously, you need a plan. You’ll want to meet as many authors as possible. Bathroom breaks and lunch are often not an option at this event because you’ll want to get into line as early as possible. Unless someone is able to bring you lunch in line, I would suggest surviving off packed snacks for the day. The earlier you get to a signing, the earlier you’ll get your book signed, and the earlier you’ll be able to get into line for another author. If you arrive at a signing late, chances are you won’t be able to get your book signed because they cut it off.

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Be prepared to get arcs and other bookish goodies! Outside of some signings, other tents will be set up with giveaways, games, and bookish promo. At booths like these is where I got the majority of my arcs. This is when things usually get cutthroat though. I was often pushed, shoved, and forced to the end of lines while racing to get an arc. Fighting for books isn’t my thing, so just be wary of this aspect and be respectful to others at all times.

Keep an eye out for unofficial author sightings. The year I attended this event, Roshani Chokshi was not an official author of the event but came as a fan. She happily took pictures and signed books of fans. Of course, this isn’t guaranteed to happen, but I would definitely pay attention to the people around you. You never know if you happen to be standing in line beside an author. If you do meet an unofficial author at the event, remember that they are attending as guests and are under no obligation to sign your book. Be sure to ask politely first.

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Christine Riccio, myself, and my sister in 2016

Some of the authors I’m most excited to see this year are Alexandra Bracken, Mary Choi, Roshani Chokshi, Stephanie Garber, Claire Legend, Kass Morgan, Natasha Ngan, and Christine Riccio. Christine Riccio will have 100 arcs of Again, But Better available at the Fierce Reads event on 11/9 at 3:30pm. She will also be giving away 10 arcs at her Booksplosion meet up at 3:00pm on 11/10. If any of the authors attending have books releasing at the end of 2018 or early 2019, there is a high possibility that arcs will be given away for FREE.

Who’s attending this year? Have you been in previous years? Let me know in the comments below!

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