As you all probably know last week was YALC week, this year I bought a 3 Day ticket so I didn’t miss any authors I wanted to meet.
I’ve put off writing this for awhile as it was a very mixed experience for me. I was unsure if I should write an honest post or edit and sugar coat it, when I put it to Twitter the general response was to be honest. I just want to say that any problems I had were in no way the fault of any authors or publisher booths. Everyone was lovely and it was nice to see So many people I know. A write-up of the fun parts will follow shortly, I needed to get this off my chest.
So, here goes… Organisation was terrible at times – mainly in the signing area. My Friday last year was so much better than this years. I managed to meet everyone I wanted to and get all of my books signed. This Friday? Nope, and it got worse on Saturday. By the end of the weekend I had scrapped 90% of signings I wanted to go to. Being told last minute that if we wanted to get our copies of Floored signed we would have to queue seven times finished me off, after getting it signed by Mel I had to leave everyone else and shut myself away in a toilet to cry. I went to talk to a crew member about it, this was supposedly to be fair to those who wanted to meet a few authors. When I mentioned being autistic and having anxiety I was asked if I had an extra help band (I didn’t know about these and I wasn’t told this when I approached organisers on she said she would see if anything could be done after I was done in that queue. I never saw her again for 4 hours despite desperately looking for her. I wasn’t able to go to any other signings that day, most of the time I couldn’t work out where I was meant to queue and crew members working each specific signing couldn’t or wouldn’t help. On the Sunday I planned two, knowing by then how it would go. I know you’ll never make it to every signing and some attract more people than others, to have to scrap 90% of my fairly small list says alot. I very often saw those with extra help bands being told they had to go to the back of the queue anyway, the extra help bands are important and there for a reason. Not everyone can stand in a queue for different reasons, this includes those in wheelchairs. On top of all this was arguments in signing queues and fights to get the signed Leigh Bardugo books. It was honestly a nightmare. Something else I noticed was a lack of seating and I know many LFCC attendees come and use the quiet area which makes the seating problem worse. Before anyone gets angry, I’m not saying they shouldn’t, it should be factored into planning etc.
You expect signings to be ticketed when they get busy. Panels however are on a first come basis, except Tom and Giovanna Fletcher. This wasn’t advertised and was near impossible to find where to get a ticket, I kept being sent from person to person until I had no choice but to eventually give up.
Everyone has heard of these awesome goodie bags for 3 Day ticket holders by now, full of swag and a proof or two. This year? A tote bag with a schedule inside, I kid you not. Publishers tweeted stuff that was meant to be going in them, no one seems to know what happened to it. All tweets to the YALC twitter account have been ignored. This is after they told people they had to wait till Sunday, even if they could no longer make that day. Don’t even get me started on the issue of venue staff not opening the shutters, even when security outside was telling them to, leaving everyone including exhibitors still waiting outside 10 minutes before opening. All of this hindered my enjoyment over the weekend.
Overall, I think there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially with access and being more inclusive in a nicer and more efficient way. I will write and send an email to Showmasters in the next few days, I hope they take on board what people have said. This year’s experience has honestly made me question whether I want to go back next year or not.