How to: Prep for YALLWEST

Oh, it’s happening.

You know the thing. The THING.

I’ve only been talking about it for the past four months. I can’t even tell you how much my roommate wishes I would stop. *claps wildly for self*

THAT’S what I’m talking about.

In less than two weeks, YALLWEST is coming to Santa Monica.

After 10,000 years of waiting for the day when I could go to YALLFEST in South Carolina, where Young Adult authors gather to do their thang, the book gods have at last birthed YALLFEST’s beach-bum-chill-with-a-touch-of-severely-hipster younger sibling. And it’s happening the weekend before the LA Times Festival of Books which means my spleen may legitimately rupture from joy.

If that doesn’t get you going, I cannot help you.

Honestly, people, I’m talking about Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Veronica Roth, Veronica Rossi, Leigh Bardugo, Ally Condie, Stephanie Perkins, Marissa Meyer, Libba Bray.

Allow me to name-drop some more. Ransom Riggs, John Corey Whaley, Margaret Stohl, E. Lockhart, Kami Garcia.

And my queen. Shannon “Jonathan-Franzen-destroyer” Hale.


Dreams will be realized. Hearts will be won. It will be a GRAND OLD FREAKING TIME.

And now I will give you the lowdown on how to prep for what is sure to be the greatest book festival I have ever attended in my young life. I’m not hyping this up at all.


Make sure all of your friends and family know that you’re likely about to drop off the face of the earth in the name of books for 48 hours. My family has taken to calling bookfest season “Sammie’s happy time.”

I’m strangely okay with this.


Like any bookfest, YALLWEST will require much bookbags. So manpurses.

Because, seriously. You’ve got to have somewhere to put that haul you’re going to acquire. How do you go to a YA book festival and not purchase all the things? It’s simple. You don’t.


If you are half the nerd that I am, you’re probably gonna want to skim this post.yallwest

That, my friends, is how bookfests are. You just SEE authors everywhere, at all times, and you’re partially like, “Wow, my favorite book came from that human’s BRAIN CELLS. This is pretty cool,” but mostly you’re just hoping to God your hair looks okay, because yes you kind of want to be their friend but you also sort of ship yourself with them???

Don’t even get me started on the amount of books everywhere. Just… go back to Step 2. Let’s marinate there for a while.


YALLWEST overall is free, but you are DEF gonna wanna get these $5 tickets to special-sauce panels and face-raging keynotes. Because of reasons.

Like, you will get to see Legend trilogy author and Divergent trilogy author faceoff over tea.

Like, you will get to see an entire hodgepodge of crazy writer types jam to all-author band Tiger Beat. HELLO.


It’s in Santa Monica: Day 1 at Santa Monica High School and Day 2 at Santa Monica Public Library. You’d best get there early, child. You’re never finding parking. PEACE.

(But there’s also public lots around, just in case.)




Okay, it’s usually not that aggressive. But for the record, every author will be signing after their panel. So you should, y’know, gird your loins. Also because…


…you’re gonna meet authors. It’s inevitable. Know what’s also inevitable? You will end up standing there gawking and fangirling with absolutely nothing of interest to say.

OR, you’ll say something creepy and spook said author back into their author cave. Example: “Do you ever write without pants? I do. All the time. We should hang out.”

Hi I'm an adult.

So here’s a list of safety questions to write on your hand so that you can covertly sneak glances when your new author acquaintance isn’t looking:

  • “Your book was the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. I just want to say thank you for spending so many years of your life slaving away to make it so incredibly perfect. Do you also write eulogies? Because I’d like to hire you to write mine for when I die of happiness after this conversation ends.”
  • “Your Twitter feed is the best thing to ever happen to humanity. You should totally go on more rants.”
  • “How do you stay sane when you’re working full-time and writing a novel and also trying to have a social life and be healthy and stuff? Tell me your secrets, please.” (But actually, can everyone please ask this and report back to me? Thanks.)


Remember that you’re probably going to need to charge your phone somewhere in there. I have learned much from my live-blogging experiences. You always run out of juice right around the time when, oh I dunno, you talk to Laurie Halse Anderson and she tells you to call her Auntie Laurie and there’s no way you have enough phone battery to ask her to say it again but more slowly and into the camera please.

Portable. Phone. Chargers.


Have a game plan. If I’ve learned anything from three LA Times Festivals of Books and one San Diego Comic Con, it’s that if I don’t know what panel I’m going to next, I’m going to miss it probably.

Prioritize. Uuuuse the schedule.

STEP 10:

Bask in the glory. For real. You made it. You’re sufficiently prepared (you’re welcome). Be free, sunshine.

–Samantha Chaffin

Will I see you at YALLWEST? Tell me now  before I slowly begin to lose my mind over the month of April. We can plan things. Meet-up things. Oh yes.


2 thoughts on “How to: Prep for YALLWEST

  1. sumlynnnguyen says:

    One of my blogging friends was able to go to yallwest and I was completely bummed that I couldn’t go. …Until I realized yallwest stemmed from yallfest, which is in South Carolina (where I actually DO live. So there is a perk to living in SC after all)! I’ve never been to any book fest/conventions but I’ve heard so much about Book Con and seriously considered going to NY for it. Now I’m beyond psyched for yallfest. I really liked how you compiled your tips, do you have a yallwest experience post as well?

    • samchaffin says:

      Oh gosh, I totally feel that. Every year since it started, I was bummed that I lived on the opposite coast and couldn’t go to Yallfest. Which is why I may or may not have completely freaked out when Yallwest was announced. 😉 That’s so great that you’re planning to go to Yallfest! It’ll be worth the wait.

      And yes! I wrote my follow-up to this post here:

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