My First YALL Fest

My First YALL Fest

2018 has taken me on some fun bookish adventures – from blogging at home, to a plane ride to New Orleans, Louisiana for ALA, and finally, by car to Charleston, South Carolina for YALL Fest.

YALL Fest is a young adult book festival put on by Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston. It’s a two day long event with author signings, author panels, publisher giveaways (arcs, merch, etc.), and lots and lots of books. It also has a sister event called YALL West, which takes place out West.

That’s probably understating it big time, but I’m not sure how else to explain it.

I’d heard of Book Con, but this event was new to me. Basically, Kylie found out about it and took care of booking it all for us (because she’s amazing like that). I was finishing up my graduate degree at the time, so a trip of any sorts was the last thing on my mind.

What was there to plan?

  • a 12 hour drive from Ohio to South Carolina
  • Deciding whether or not to sign up for panels
  • Picking events
  • Planning out book signings
  • Figuring out which arcs to try and get
  • Hotel stuff

Kylie did it all. I just made sure the car had a fresh oil change and a full tank of gas.

So for the rest of the post, I’ll talk about the experience of YALL Fest, including the different authors I met, the interactions I had, thoughts on Charleston, what I’ll do differently if I go again next year, and the good, bad, and ugly side of this book festival.

Please bear with me, it’s about to get messy.

Let’s start with….Authors

YALL Fest had quite the line up of YA and Middle Grade authors! Some of them were key note speakers, and others were there to sign books.

here is a list of authors that were there. Out of that list, I saw…

  1. Victoria Aveyard (She was so fun to talk to!)
  2. Stephanie Garber (She was awesome! I love seeing authors who are so excited about their readers!)
  3. Jenny Han (We got super lucky! She was only signing 100 books on Wednesday. Kylie and I were numbers 92 and 93).
  4. Robin Lafevers (She was so nice! And had a lot of cool swag to go with her book!)
  5. Morgan Matson (she was one of the sweetest people I have ever met)
  6. Lisa Maxwell (so happy to see an Ohio author!)
  7. Natasha Ngan (ohmygoodness, she was so lovely and sweet! My heart was so happy)
  8. Stephanie Perkins (She was adorable! Extremely fun and genuine! She even waved to me later on that day while crossing the street)
  9. Neal Shusterman (Technically I didn’t see him, but someone took my copy of Thunderhead to get signed)
  10. Stephanie Kate Strohm (She was so energetic about signing her book and talking about it! I absolutely had a blast talking to her).
  11. Kiersten White (Kylie and I nearly missed her, but she was kind enough to stick around a few extra minutes to sign our books).

I felt like I saw a lot of authors, but if you check out the list, you’ll see that I barely made a dent. Still, it was fantastic to meet so many authors and have them sign my books. They were all wonderful and clearly thrilled to be there.


I don’t have much to say. For the most part, people were pretty nice. There are always going to be rude people at events, especially when there are arc giveaways, but most people were eager to make new friends and meet their favorite authors. Most people I talked to were from the South since it’s an easy-ish drive (most people traveled 2-4 hours). As soon as they heard me talk, they asked where I was from (the Ohio accent* strikes again), and they could not believe that I (well, we) drove 12 hours.

Maybe it’s an Ohio thing to always drive unless it’s too far West?

Anyway, the weirdest thing to me, besides people thinking 12 hours was too long to drive, was the number of people who called me a Yankee. Like, really? It just struck me as odd. Maybe because we don’t hear that a lot up North?

Another interaction that stuck out to me (and thankfully doesn’t involve being called a Yankee) was talking to a teenage girl while in line for Morgan Matson. She told me about school and how her family takes lots of road trips, and then she asked what I did for a living. I told her that I’m a librarian, and her face lit up. She immediately began telling me how much she loved her local library and it meant a great deal to her.

It honestly warmed my heart so much.

actual footage of me

All in all, I met some pretty fun people while waiting in line. I even met two other Ohioans, though they didn’t have to drive as far since they were from Cincinnati.

*The Ohio “accent” is basically that we exaggerate our vowels. Also Northern and Southern Ohioians have different accents. We all say “ope” though. 

Charleston, South Carolina

In terms of the architecture, it reminded me quite a bit of New Orleans, Louisiana. I suppose that makes sense though. Since it was the “off” season (not tourist), the city was fairly quiet and it reminded me quite a bit of home (although I felt safer walking around the streets of downtown Charleston at night than I have ever felt back home).

It’s a cool place full of history. Kylie and I did a ghost tour, but we also used our free day to explore the city and learn its history. South Carolina is an interesting state. They were one of the 13 original colonies, the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, and the first state to secede from the Union during the Civil War. As one of the oldest states, there’s quite a bit to learn, especially seeing the different roles South Carolina took on during the American Revolution and the Civil War.

Charleston had a great deal of historical landmarks, and we took our time reading each one we stumbled across. If I don’t go back to YALL Fest next year, I hope to go to Charleston again to learn more of its history.

What I’d Do Differently

There’s no too much to say. I thought YALL Fest went pretty well, given it was our first time going. It definitely would have been easier if we had a larger group so we could have done a “divide and conquer” method for the book signings, but we worked with what we had.

Maybe next time I’ll go to a panel or try for more arcs.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Anything with books is pretty fantastic, but that doesn’t make it a utopia by any means. There were ups and downs for sure!

  • The Good….
    1. HMH Teen. They we efficient and had a good amount of arcs.
    2. Agreeable weather.
    3. Authors were able and willings to sign more than 1 book.
  • The Bad…
    1. Fierce Reads. They pretty much allowed chaos to ensue over their limited arcs, and their communication regarding arcs and lines for them was pretty awful.
  • The Ugly…
    1. People went crazy trying to get limited arcs (mostly at the Fierce Reads tent). They were pretty much ready to mob the tent and push anyone out of the way. Super not cool.
      1. Unpopular Opinion: These books are gonna be published in a few months. What’s the big deal? It’s just a book, and it isn’t worth sanity or causing accidental harm to someone else.


YALL Fest was a pretty good time. I think I’d like to try Book Con next, but I wouldn’t mind another round of YALL Fest next year. I’m very happy with my arcs and newly signed books.

Waiting in line for Jenny Han in the rain






2 thoughts on “My First YALL Fest

  1. Such a lovely post, Syl, and I am glad you had a great time at the event. It looks like you had a very fulfilling couple of days!
    And that conversation about being a librarian, you describe it so beautifully that it feels heartwarming even to me just reading about it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s