In-person author signings and book events are finally back and I could not be more excited! YALLFest took place this past weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. I started making plans to head back to Charleston as soon as I saw the announcement that YALLFest would be back this year. I hadn’t been in a few years (last year was cancelled, the year before I was in school) so it was doubly exciting for me.
YALLFest this year was a little different than it has been in the past. Mainly, it was only author signings and panels. The sponsor events were all virtual, meaning no publisher tents. For those who are unfamiliar with YALLFest, in addition to the author signings and panels, the sponsors host a variety of other events such as Fierce Friday, giveaways, in-booth signings, ARC drops, and scavenger hunts. I was pretty disappointed when I found out none of that would be there this year, but on the other hand it made my weekend much more low-key and relaxing than it had been in the past!
There were three signings I wanted to hit up on Friday’s YALLCrawl: Stephanie Garber and Shelby Mahurin were signing together at 1, and Victoria Aveyard was signing at 2 at another location closer the hub of YALLFest. I really wanted to get Victoria’s autograph on Friday, because the time she was signing on Saturday was smack dab in the middle of a bunch of other author’s I was interested in meeting and I knew her line would be insane the next day (it was). So I decided to skip the 1 o’clock signing (sadly) and only do her on Friday. Victoria Aveyard’s signing was the only one in which I completely forgot to ask for picture and didn’t realize it until hours later 😭 I didn’t have any other signings on Friday so after I was finished I got a smoothie bowl at my favorite smoothie place, Playa Bowls, and then explore Charleston with my parents and the pups!
Saturday was more a typical book event day for me: lines, lines, and more lines! Adalyn Grace was the first author I wanted to meet and since I “started” the line with another gentleman that was standing there I was able to be second in line. I snuck a note into my book asking for an ARC of Belladonna, which made Adalyn laugh, but alas she did not have any on her. Since I finished with her signing so quickly from being at the front, I was able to hop into Stephanie Garber’s line immediately and still be pretty near the front. Stephanie Garber, Shelby Mahurin, and Chloe Gong were all signing at the same time at 2 (why YALLFest?!) so my plan was to get to Stephanie’s line early enough to be near the front so that I could hopefully book it down the street after I was finish and join the end of Chloe’s. And that’s exactly what I did! What I did not expect was getting to Chloe’s line and seeing how long it still was. I really wanted to meet Ryan Graudin at 3 who is the author of one of my favorite books, Wolf by Wolf. Once I joined the line for Chloe I realized that was not going to happen and it was time to bring in the reinforcements: my mom. Shout out to my mother who grabbed my Ryan Graudin books out of the car, was first in line for her signing, and was able to get her to personalize one of my books with a favorite quote. She’s the real MVP 🙌🏼 My only regret is that since I myself wasn’t at the signing, I couldn’t get a picture with her.
Even though YALLFest was way different this year, and I didn’t come home with any ARCs or goodies, I still had a really good time! Sometimes at book events I’m stretched thin and stressed over all the different places I need to be for ARC drops and giveaways that I miss out on meeting my favorite authors (or I send my mom to the signings). This weekend was much more low-key, and since there hasn’t been any book events for a couple years it was a good way to get back into them again with much less anxiety. Fingers crossed that more in-person events start happening in the future! I know BookCon/BookExpo was cancelled indefinitely but I’m still hoping that it gets restructured/rebranded and some kind of book event happens in the spring!