YALC is this week! While I'm sure most of us, myself included, are still not wholly prepared, I thought I'd share my tips from attending last year for the first time (alone!) in the hopes it might help with some of the immense preparation for all.
1) Don't rush.
We all want to do everything. All the time. But sometimes you've got to take in the atmosphere too and make some memories. So don't rush. Take it all in. Enjoy. Remember. You'll thank yourself later.
One of my personal highlights that I remember vividly is Sarah Rees Brennan asking me my favourite TMI characters. Without thinking I said 'Jem' then, realising he wasn't really in TMI (technically not a MC), averted to 'and Magnus'. Somehow Sarah thought I meant as a couple, and the sidelong glance from Cassie had me in stitches once I was home. So yes, take it all in folks. YALC is one of a kind, as are the authors who attend.
The key to any convention. Do not underestimate queue length, both signings and the food itself. Be prepared.
3) Comfortable shoes
Another big one. Don't underestimate how important healthy, comfortable feet are. You'll be on them most of the day!
4) Give it a go!
Don't be afraid to let loose and try everything on offer! Being alone and anxious I was too scared to try much and I do regret it.
5) Polite, not pushover
I say this more from experience. Conventions are filled with people all with their own wants and fun packed agendas. Polite society and etiquette still applies of course (we are British) but don't be a pushover. I.E;
There was a competition for an ARC of House of Shattered Wings. Go to the Gollancz stand and shout 'wings' once they've tweeted to do so. I saw the tweet within seconds of posting and by the time I got there, the proof was still up for grabs. But people were in front of me looking at the books so I politely waited for a gap. As I did, someone sidled alongside me, shouted, and that was it.
So yeah, be polite, never rude, but don't be a pushover. Not when it comes to competitions anyway *wink face*
6) Bring a friend
What helps with both anxiety and not being a pushover is if you have a friend. If there's someone you can attend with, go with the phrase 'the more the merrier'. It helps.
7) Books, books, books
Bear in mind how much you take with you and how much you buy. You'll have to carry it all home in the end!
8) Take it easy
Just as with not rushing, take it easy. I ended up having a panic attack last year because I did too much, didn't eat right, bought too much, was alone, and was tired, hence the tips here. It's not something I intend to repeat or want anyone else to feel, so don't underestimate breaks and taking care of yourself.
9) Be careful where you roam
Part of what triggered my anxiety was heading down to the LFCC floor which was mad busy and packed to the rafters. So have fun, but be careful where you go and when.
10) 3 is better than 1
What's better than breaks and meticulous planning, trying to find the line between fun and keeping happy? More time of course. If you can attend all three days, it should improve pressure and anxiety because you simply have more time and less rushing.
11) Cash, not dash
The convention operates mainly on cash, so make sure you have plenty. You don't want to spend part of your day dashing to cash machines. It wastes time and could lead to potential purchases being taken by someone else.
12) Ears and eyes open
Announcements such as changes to signing times, panels and signing queues are usually by Twitter, so keep an eye out, or an ear for stewards. It certainly helps keep track and makes sure you don't miss anything.
So those are my tips for YALC! I really hope you've found at least a few of them useful.
Thanks for reading!