Having been to YallWest 5 years running you would think I could plan ahead just a bit: nope. I always am that person who forgets one thing or another, who scrambles to buy sunscreen at 11pm the night before because she forgot it, or asks to borrow a hat from her friend because yeah that was left behind as well. All in all I’ve made a list of the dos and don’ts of YallWest— because bookfests in California are just bit on the sunny side.
The day of YallWest can be a bit overwhelming, but as long as you prepare and pack a few essentials, it makes the day that much more enjoyable. Here’s the top 10 essentials you cannot live without.
YallWest Top 10 Essentials
1 — As you make your schedule, remember to plan a lunch break. I know, right? We are always like- I don’t have time! But trust me, when you hit 6pm and haven’t had food, you will regret that decision. I am speaking from experience. Ironically, I forgot to plan that in this year, and guess what? I stepped out of line and got a burger. After Smackdown and everything else, I didn’t end up eating dinner until around 9pm. Lesson learn the hard way my second year, stop and get some lunch.
2 — SUNSCREEN! I kid you not. I bought it the night before when I was driving home because I knew it was going to be hot and sunny. Let me tell, sunburn is not something to fangirl about. Plus, it’s an easy way to make line friends as you offer it to those less than fortunate.
3 — An add-on to #2, bring a hat. It’s hot and sunny and if you have bangs or a neat hair-do you will get the dreaded head burn, and no one wants that. But should you unfortunately get the sun’s kiss on your part, rinse it with chilled Green Tea. I swear, this is a remedy I cannot live without.
4 — Hydrate. Bring a bottle and stay hydrated. There at plenty of water fountains at Santa Monica High School, so fill ‘er up! You’re out in the sun all day and dehydration is real when you hit 90 degrees (which it has in past years). Friends are great for reminding you to drink up your H2O, or set a reminder on your phone to take a water (and a bathroom) break.
5 — If you’re a writer, you are never without a pen. I always carry extra Sharpies, yes multiple, because who knows when you’ll run across a favorite author and no one has a pen nearby. (True story) That said, also carry sticky notes with you if you plan to go to signing lines, they’re super helpful to get your books in order and your name spelt correctly.
6 — I shouldn’t have to say this but I’ve made the same mistake. Wear comfortable shoes. You will kneel, walk, squat, run, and every step of the way you’ll need comfy shoes to carry on. So even though you want to look cute, I have to recommend being practical in the shoe department. Santa Monica High School is on a sloping hill, so be prepared and thank yourself later.
7 — If you’re blogger, I highly suggest bringing business cards. When I first went to YallWest I was not a blogger, but as I’ve grown I’ve also realized cards are a way people stay in-touch. So whether you print them off your computer (like I did the first year I went as a blogger) or get them made professionally, take a chance and ask if people want to exchange cards.
8 — Map it out. YallWest is really good about getting a map PDF up prior to the event, so print it out and familiarize yourself where all the booths and panels are. It saves time later and it helps you map out #4 breaks.
9 — Don’t pull a Camille and wear a cute tote bag. Your shoulders will be in so much pain. Backpacks are the best option in my opinion. Though I do see some people with rollers, the wheels do get caught on the dirt and it makes standing on a slope difficult. You don’t want to go chasing after a cart headed downhill.
10 — Make a list of priorities, keep expectations in check, and most of all… Have Fun! You’re there to commune with other fellow book lovers who love YA just as much as you. Don’t allow frustrations to get in the way of having the best experience.
* Bonus tip: if you have the ability, keep an eye on social media for drops, giveaways, and panel changes.
There are of course the unspoken rules of don’t rush a booth, don’t push people, be polite, don’t grab ARCs out of people’s hands (Yes, this has happened), but in honesty that should all be common sense. Everyone is out to have a good time at YallWest, so make the most of the opportunities presented and enjoy every moment.
*PS. If the Jogasaki Truck is there and you like sushi— get their sushi burrito!