So its been a hot minute since I posted my main YALC Wrap Up and Haul post which I made sure to only focus on the negatives and I mentioned within it how there would be a follow up.
It is finally time for said follow up and I hope I didn’t leave it too long. My anger and frustration may not be as strong as it was that weekend, but its still there and I’m definitely not the only one.
I first attended YALC last year and I had a pretty awesome and over whelming time. One of the best things was the Showmasters staff often took recommendations from us attendees on which authors would gather a large queue so they could be prepared in advanced to start virtual queueing for us. This made everyones day easier and attendees happier.
From what I can remember (like I said I was v overwhelmed that year and I can’t even tell you who I met now) the biggest complaints were about accessibility; too many run-for-the-ARC twitter announcements, too many “do something silly” for an ARC, and not enough seats.
I know for a fact that because of this Lucy-May, and possibly others, got in contact with Showmasters and publishers to get these issues sorted for this year. I believe everyone promised changes would be made.
The publishers definitely listened to our complaints. ARCs were a lot more accessible for attendees. There were set times for ARC drops so people knew in advance, raffles, lucky dips, giveaways, and lastly purchase a finished copy and get an ARC in return.
However, a few publishers ended up giving the ARC away before the set time.
On one hand I understand this, if you know the amount of copies you have available and you can see the queue is already double that it makes sense to limit people’s disappointment if they’re joining the back of a queue.
Understandably this left some of us disappointed when arriving 5-10 minutes before only to find out it had already been done. Most publishers handled this fine so this complaint isn’t to them.
But this did lead to people turning up earlier and earlier for the giveaways which y’know makes sense, but not gonna lie some pubs didn’t seem happy about this situation.
Other than this though I haven’t seen any other complaints in this area, off the top of my head at least.
I will happily say that all my interactions with publishers were lovely, but I have definitely heard the odd upset attendee here and there.
Now we get to the major complaints and concerns though.
And these all come down to the Showmasters staff.
This is under four areas; seating, queuing, “goody” bag, and lack of information.
We’ll start with the straight forward issue of the goody bag. Last year we were given a tote bag that we could collect any time during the weekend and most of us got it signed too.
However, this year we weren’t allowed to collect it until Sunday. I was told it was due to items not being ready for it, but on when I did get it on Sunday all it had inside was the weekends schedule and two postcards… that was it?
So like, what didn’t they have?
Last year, when getting my tote bag signed I also got it signed by a few authors whose books I didn’t have but had some interest in and it was great to get to speak to them about their work regardless of the fact I didn’t have the books. So I missed out on these type of interactions this year due the lack of my “goody” bag.
Could I have gone with something else? Sure. I had 2 authors sign my bujo whilst I spoke to them but mostly I just felt awkward going out-of-the-way to say hi when I didn’t have something for them.
But now onto the more important things.
Seating was seriously lacking last year and there was hardly any improvement this year. According to Fi @ Bookish Outsider when she raised this concern at the end of last year she was told that there had been adequate seating. This year she armed herself with photographic evidence of the area and lack of seats. She will have a post up to document her time there this year at some point. She has told me that in September she’ll have a post going live with her concerns too.
It’ll be interesting to read her post and see the response given this year. As I’m not a priority for needing seats I didn’t really seak them out but I didn’t seen any dotted around which would’ve been handy…
(Please note that last year I seriously hurt my knee from constantly sitting on the floor and standing up, this year I kept that in mind whenever doing this to avoid the pain again. Mostly it helped)
Now we get onto queueing and lack of information. These two really go hand in hand.
First up I’ve seen a few people not know they could get the extra help wristbands until the day of, particularly those who were attending for the first time. This needs to be better advertised and highlighted. I don’t really have a way to make this so other than perhaps a prompt when purchasing tickets to see if the customer is in need of them? I know that next year for sure I’ll do my best to tweet about this before hand to remind people.
Not that it really mattered if you did have the extra help wrist band as plenty who did were refused the help. A few of the Showmasters staff told those with the wrist bands they would have to wait their turn as it was unfair on others, or to at least wait until their virtual queue ticket bracket was called. Both of which really counteract the importance of the extra help wrist band.
As I mentioned earlier last year the staff were happy to listen to our recommendations on who’s queues would have a big turn out but this year we were told “its not up to us” or “no we aren’t ticketing for this” even when the queues already filled the width of the event space. (Only to then ticket 20 minutes later because the queues were unbearable).
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have to queue, just that why can’t it always be efficient? If you have a system in place to help those with extra help bands and other attendees then why aren’t you utilising it?
Like there are multiple things to do at any given time so it would seem odd to spend the full day in a queue, no?
I ended up missing out on a signing due to this because my mental health was making me get very anxious about the stalls we were blocking and I was generally dizzy from the heat and standing still.
This isn’t the only area where queueing and lack of information failed, because, you know the workshops that are held too? Well I got told that you had to sign up for them at the start of the day but I was also told that it was first come first served in the queue for them…
I know people missed out on these because of this very contradictive information. I did manage to attend one that I signed up for near the start of the day but yes there were people in the queue waiting for it who didn’t know/were told they didn’t have to sign up.
It was frustrating and they just needed to be sure everyone had the same information and training. It’s this lack of communication that caused these issues.
As I mentioned I’m not the first to have raised these issues so here are other bloggers who have addressed the issues at hand, possibly more eloquently than myself. Additionally this is a good indicator that this isn’t an “over reaction”, these are legitimate concerns.