YALC proves a hit with trade and teens

YALC proves a hit with trade and teens

Authors, booksellers and publishers have praised this year’s Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC), organised by Book Trust, highlighting the “buzzing” atmosphere.

Now in its second year, YALC took place over three days last week (17th–19th July) at London Olympia. Events included author signings, panel talks, agent events and workshops. Several children’s publishers—including Penguin Random House Children’s, Hot Key Books, Walker Books, David Fickling and Little Tiger—had stands at the event.

Harriet Venn, acting publicity manager at Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “It was an amazing atmosphere, everyone was really enthusiastic. It was great to see so many publisher stands and so many teenagers interacting with publishers as well as with authors.”

Sanne Vliegenthart, digital and social media manager at Hot Key Books, praised the new venue—YALC took place at Earls Court last year—and its additional space, as well as the fact that YALC had its own floor, separate to the main Comic Con area. She said: “It was so much busier and the people that were there were there because they love books. Last year lots of people were passing by just because they were at Comic Con, but this year nearly everyone in the
YALC area was there for books, which is wonderful.” Vliegenthart also noted that the new venue featured more space for attendees to sit down and relax.

Laura Dockrill signs books for fans

Waterstones Kensington was the on-site bookseller and its events manager Michael Korel said he had sold books to “kids of eight, nine and 10, right up to adults in their 50s and 60s”, although he added that most of the visitors were teens or young adults. “YALC is the most important event we do because the people there are the people who will buy books in the future. And the wonderful thing is they were buying print books—they are not reading on a Kindle.”

Korel said the top sellers were “big-hitters” such as Cassandra Clare and Darren Shan, although breakout writers including Dawn Kurtagich and Alice Oseman also sold well. Author Laura Dockrill, who spoke on two panels and signed copies of her first YA novel, Lorali (Hot Key Books), said teenagers were interested in how she wrote. “It was so nice signing books for teenagers because I’ve been signing books for kids for so long. Although that’s lovely, I was having conversations with [teens] about how I wrote the book and the techniques I used, or how I came up with the characters and plot,” she said. “It was really rewarding.”

Agent Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency also noted that attendees were at YALC for career ideas and not just as fans, and many teenagers took part in agent events because they wanted to write or to work in publishing.

One suggestion for improvement came from Janet Thomas, editor at Welsh publisher Firefly Press, who said that while the event was “fantastic”, it would have been been useful to have had microphones in the agent areas and the workshops, in addition to the main stage.

Patrick Ness with fellow author Judy Blume, who he interviewed at YALC

Copyright for all photos belongs to Rolf Marriott