Saturday, July 19, 2014

YALLFest Survival Guide

Alright so on much request I've decided to do a YALLFest Survival Guide. If you have no clue what a YALLFest is...let me explain. YALLFest is a yearly book festival held in the Downtown streets of Historical Charleston, SC. Butt loads of new and hot, YA/Teen authors come to speak at panels, answer questions, and sign books. Plus there's much pie.

So, chances are, someone you know will be here.

I attended last year with my amazing bookish pals and we had an AMAZING time meeting Veronica Roth (Divergent Series), Marie Lu (Legend Trilogy), Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl, Eleanor and Park), and plenty others such as Veronica Rossi, Lauren Oliver, Margaret Stohl, Melissa De La Cruz, Kami Garcia, Brendan Reichs, Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs.

This year for whoever is wishing to go (being their first time and not knowing what to expect) I've accumulated some important info and just downright suggestions to help you pull through the (this year) 2 days of complete fun!

So where will we start? Well how about the basics. YALLFest this year will be 2 days. As far as I know there will still be the Preview Night before hand on Friday evening. Preview Night isn't a huge thing, it's ticketed and those prices will be up soon. Basically the only thing you have to pay for since the festival is free is the ticketed events like Keynote, Premiere Night, YA Smackdown, your hotel and the gas and food. Now Preview Night isn't necessary but I do think of it as a big help to Saturday's schedule. Say an author you REALLY want to see Saturday is there Friday Night, it may just be worth it to attend Friday night's events which hold author's reading excerpts from their books, also a raffle for tickets to the Keynote Address the following morning. That way you can cut someone off your list for Saturday and you now have more time to see someone else or just breath.

Now you can take the chance at winning tickets Friday night for the Keynote Saturday morning...but I don't suggest it. It's not a great chance that you will make it and who would want to miss out on an amazing start to the festival?

The Keynote is also a ticketed event. The nice thing about Keynote is you can't just walk in. You HAVE to buy tickets and that guarantees you a spot for the Keynote author's book signing afterwards. You can't just walk into the signing either. The police station and fire station ask that those attending Keynote please not line up before 7 am. That is impossible. You need to make it there at least 20-30 minutes before 7:00 am due to people already lining up. The Signings run by hour. They let the first 100 or so in the first hour, the next 100 the next hour and so forth. If you plan ahead that you want your book to be signed in the first hour and plan everything else around you getting your book signed that first hour, be there early. Also last year the rule was only 1 book for key note speakers. Keynote authors will NOT sign anything else but a book. If you have multiple books you want to bring (what I have found effective for many authors) bring a friend or your mom/dad who has no books they want signed. Have them stand in line and get the book made out to you.
This also works if two authors are at the same time. Split up and hit them both. But sometimes it's possible to just plan on seeing them at another hour.


Say you want to attend all 4 authors' signings. You can do it like this

Veronica Roth Signings
12:00 am, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm

Lauren Oliver
12:00 am, 3:00pm, 5:00 pm

Rainbow Rowell
11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm

Ally Condie
11:00 am, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm

You can attend Veronica Roth at 12:00 am; Lauren Oliver at 5:00 pm, Rainbow Rowell at 2:00 pm, and Ally Condie at 3:00 pm.

It sounds easy but having many more authors than just 4 can make it extremely difficult. It's also very helpful to just take an hour or two and write out all the authors you want to see, below their names write the times and then start another list. Write out each hour and under the hour write the names of all the others doing signings at that time.

(Not Actual Times)

11:00 am
Veronica Roth
Stephanie Perkins
Kami Garcia
Margret Stohl
12:00 pm
Rainbow Rowell
Ally Condie
Kathy Reichs
1:00 pm

Brendan Reichs
Margaret Stohl
Lauren Oliver
Marie Lu
2:00 pm
Stephanie Perkins
Lauren Oliver
Rainbow Rowell

Do this for Panels as well. Coffee Talks and Panels are the same thing. They're just panels where authors sit with a table in front of them with coffee cups on them. Sometimes they aren't even allowed to drink in some areas. Just make sure you have a plan A and then make sure you have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn't work out. I say start a folder and keep all your info in there that way its easy to grab and take a pen in case you need to make changes to schedules. It does happen. Okay now I just want to write this out as simple as I can. This is all that is going on and where.

Coffee Talks
(You will have to purchase tickets)
Keynote Address (Morning)
Premiere Night (Friday Night)
YA Smackdown (Evening)

Blue Bicycle Books
American Theatre
Charleston Music Hall
Upper King Street

MUSIC HALL = Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St.

BALLROOM = American Theater Ballroom, 446 King St.
CINEMA = American Theater Cinema, 446 King St.
Alright so some other advice, just from what I've found important:
1) As soon as the list of schedules come out, plan! Also, as soon as tickets for the ticketed events come out and you wish to purchase them, do that quickly. Don't wait. They'll be gone.
2) Many of the hotels do not serve breakfast early enough if you are attending Keynote. Breakfast usually starts at 7 or 8; people start lining up for keynote at 7. Keynote begins at 10:00 am. The Music Hall is where the Keynote was held last year on John St. On the main road (King St) all the way at the end is a Starbucks. I get that some people don't like it, but Starbucks is open early at that time, they have plenty of drinks to choose from (Juice, Coffee, Espresso Shots and etc), and they serve pastries. It's important to bring at least SOMETHING to eat. The entire day is packed full of events and if you have as many authors as I do and 30 something books to get signed, you'll not have a lot of time to sit down and have a nice lunch. You'll be stuffing a croissant in your bag and picking off it all day.
3) Dress warmly and continually check the weather. I get that some people may think November may still be a little warmer during the's not. I you attend Saturday morning's keynote make sure you bring a jacket, scarf, heck bring a blanket. It's freezing. I was numb all over from how cold it was. Make sure you know the weather and prepare by bringing jeans, jackets and a scarf. Maybe bring a hat too.
4) Never underestimate people. Make sure when you find a seat, don't for any reason seem unsure about them. Grab them and park yourself there because someone will take them. Last year we had gone into an aisle to get seats and 2 girls came around and literally threw their bags ahead of them into our seats. Like really? So make sure you get your seats right away. Set your eyes on where you wanna be and go there. 

5) For those who have more than 15 books they wish to bring make sure you skip the bag. As in, skip a tote bag or grocery bag or what ever you would think to bring, this is not your average rodeo. You'll walk around for four hours and your shoulder will have an indention mark in your skin. Take a wagon or a cart of some kind, don't worry you won't look weird. A lot of people take wagons because some, have like over sixty books to bring. It's incredible how many books are brought by just one person. I know for me I have over thirty that I'm bringing.
Last year I brought a tote bag and had only 9 or 10 books to get signed. I now have that, plus 20. It's amazing! Anyways, bring something that is easy to move around, isn't terribly huge and in the way, but basically get something that works for you and works best for a festival.
6) My Bookish friend and pal that introduced me to YALLFest last year, Azelyn, also made a good point that I thought I should add in here. When attending a festival like this, it does create long lines, crabby fangirls (especially if they haven't eaten), and lots of excitement. I can tell you there's nothing like standing in a line for an hour to realize the author who you'd wanted to see was now done with signing in this particular venue and now had to go to another one, and you still didn't get your books signed. Also people started lining up at the other venue already. It sucks it really does but as my friend Azelyn pointed out... there's nothing like patience. Patience is seriously needed for this type of event. Patience with the authors, patience with the booksellers in the Big Tent, patience with all the volunteers who helped set this up. Patience is needed all around for a better time at YALLFest... and quick feet and a good heart. You have to be quick in your step, watch some videos of New Yorkers walking and learn. Also, have a good heart, as in if you know that you get stressed out easily then maybe double and triple think attending. It's a very packed and energy filled event. I have an okay heart but even I needed to stop and breathe cause my heart was like a jack rabbit on crack. (Yeah I know, weird saying. But laugh at it because it's funny.)
So... I hope that this can help somewhat. Please, If you have any question you think I may be able to answer. Please ask. I'll do my best to answer. For more info on the event, like hotel suggestions, restaurant suggestions and etc. consult the home website of YALLFest:


  1. This is my first time going to Y'all Fest so what time should I get to Preview Night? What time does it start? Will I have to line up?

    1. Hey so I answered part of your question on Instagram and this is to answer the rest of your question. You probably will have to line up before they open the room to you guys. Last time Premiere Night (or Preview Night) was in a Library in Charleston. They turned the Teen area into the room for Premiere Night. This event is subject to change and you'll have to purchase tickets for the event, but let it also be noted that YALLFest has changed some things and have not given a time/location for this event yet and its still in question as to whether there will still be a premiere night. So keep this in mind.

  2. So this year I see that they're giving out wrist bands for Veronica Roth's book signing, starting at 9am on Saturday. What time would you suggest getting in line? 6am? Earlier?

    1. Hey Gabi,

      So glad to hear your headed to YallFest too! So between 6-7 to get there shouldn't be too bad. Last year when she did Keynote, people only started lining up at 7. So its really a guessing game with the perfect time because it could really go either way. SO, I never really could predict what people are going to do, so i go by my rule of thumb... "better early than late". Also base it on what spot in place you want. You want a spot in the first 50 then you have to get there early. So really it's up to you. I hope this helped.

  3. Also, how long do authors stay out for book signings? Do you think it's possible to go to a panel and book signing that are scheduled to begin at the same hour?

    1. Book Signings last 1 hour. A panel also lasts 1 hour. If you get to the signing early and are one of the first people to get stuff signed it is possible that you can make it to a panel in the same hour, you'll just be late and may have to stand.

  4. Do any of the authors give out books or do you have to bring your own?

    1. You have to bring your, but the hosting book store has many of the authors' books to purchase as well.

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  6. Last year i saw some people with vip pass and they got to skip lines. Do you know if it's something we can buy or is maybe up for auction?

    1. Hey there! Unfortunately no you can't buy them. VIP Passes are for authors friends and family that the author requests for them. It's the authors who allow them to the front. Some other passes are for those who have donated to a cause that YALLfest supports and they then are given passes to go front row and sit with the authors but I don't believe they get to cut line. Last year I ended up being allowed to cut in line by Gayle Forman because the day before there was a mishap with my book which she said she'd fix and she allowed me to the front. The only passes though are those I mentioned above. BUT if someone sells a VIP pass on the Internet and you find it, great!

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