Welcome to my North Texas Teen Book Festival 2018 Recap! It was April 21, 2018 in Irving, TX. It is the fourth year for this festival. It was surprising to see so many publisher tables with really good ARC drops and social media interactive ways to get free stuff. I could tell that a lot of extra steps were put in place to ensure everyone’s safety.
The festival was at the Irving Convention Center again. It is a very nice place for an event like this as last year there were between 9,000 and 12,000 attendees. Four floors were utilized but I personally felt some of those vendors on the fourth floor were a bit neglected. That meant there was a LOT of walking and carrying of books up & down escalators. People seemed a little calmer this year, as if they were confident they had their day planned out and knew where to go. Even more of the convention center was utilized this year but the weather just was not playing nice (think cold and rainy).
What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Barnes and Noble was in charge of sales again. My plan was to get books first because almost every single book available was presigned. Not too shabby. I spent about 15-20 minutes wandering the tables to make sure I bought the books I wanted. This was the line to check out after only being opened 20 minutes:
It was kind of scary to see how many people were lined up to either look at books (which was not a calm and peaceful process this year) or buy books (which the volunteers were rather rude – I’ll get into that in a bit).
There were several Publisher tables again this year, which was awesome to see. They were spread out this year, two or three were on the first floor while the others were on the fourth floor. When I mentioned vendors feeling neglected on the fourth floor, this is what I meant:
Sure, there were panels taking place on the fourth floor but from first blush, you have no idea there are two publisher tables around that corner. And there were some characters from the Captain Underpants book:
Overall that floor was relatively quiet, if you can believe that.
I will say that there was one publisher table – I will not name names – that was overly rude to anyone over the age of 15. They were snapping, standoffish, and used non-verbal means of communication (facial expressions) to let me know they were not too happy that I was at their table. They loudly pointed out, “WE SENT THAT EMAIL OUT FOR TEENS ONLY” or “WE DO HAVE BAGS, BUT YOU ARE CLEARLY NOT A TEEN SO THIS IS NOT FOR YOU”. I’m not really the right person you want to go up against so it took everything I had to bite my tongue. I did glare at them and said, “There is no need to be so rude about it. Everyone can see and hear you being a jerk. Is this where you want to be when Jesus comes back? Think about it next time.” I do know I was not the only one they did this too because everyone I talked to about this particular table told me they had the same experience. It makes me question doing anything with the publisher, to be honest.
This may be the shortest part of my post because changes were made to Publisher Events this year. They clearly stated TEENS ONLY on the events that were, in fact, targeted at/for/to teens. Maybe that was because of the outcry from last year, or perhaps it was a choice made by higher ups. Either way, it made my day a hell of a lot easier because it meant I didn’t have to made a decision on if I wanted to stand in line for XYZ event or not. I am disappointed but there isn’t anything I can or could do about it.
There was only ONE ARC drop I stood in line for (The new V.E. Schwab MG ARC) and that was on the fourth floor. Since there was hardly anyone up there, I found myself first in line for that precious. Penguin Teen, Epic Reads, and Underlined were on first floor doing ARC drops all day. While I wish I could have gotten my hands on most of the beauties they were passing out, I was not going to risk a repeat of last year. I think Penguin had the right idea – they used Social Media to their advantage. If you did *insert task here* and proved to them you did it, you were given your choice of ARC and a shirt. Talk about AWESOME! Not to mention they had coupons handed out that could be cashed in for another ARC. These guys had their stuff down to a science. Well done, Penguin Teen. 🙂
The one main line I stood in was for a wristband for one of four authors. I arrived at 7am (thinking I would be early) only to find the lines started LONG before I showed up. I was informed that the girl at the head of the Cassandra Clare line arrived at midnight to hold her place in line. Girl. I arrived at 7am and still got a wristband for Cassandra. That seemed a little extreme to me but who am I to judge. I had been told that I could only get ONE wristband so that’s what I did. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT WAS NOT TRUE. *grumble* *grumble*
This made my time in the chilly April morning worth it:
The other line that is the real focus is the signing lines… but that will come later. I promise, my darlings, I will give you the skinny on those lines.
I try to express how important it is to make friends at these festivals. I made more friends this year and was over the moon excited about that!
Who doesn’t know Xander! For me it isn’t a book event until I get to chat with him for a few moments. 🙂 Plus, it never ceases to amaze me how authors will stop him in the hallway to talk to him.
I still stress the importance of making friends at these events. One can never have enough friends no matter what.
I am still keeping this as a talking point for this event. I will humbly say that I had a better experience this year but I also stayed far away from publisher sponsored events and most ARC drops. It hurt me to stay away from those things because I REALLY wanted to partake but unable to. Either I was not able to attend or I chose to remove myself from the area for fear of a repeat from last year.
I will say the one main interaction I had with a RUDE volunteer was during the wait in the wristband author signing line. There was one volunteer that acted like Thanos wielding power. She yelled at nearly every single person and scolded people if they got out of line to use the restroom. At one point I did have to use the restroom (waiting in a 3+ hour line will do that….) and I approached this volunteer for instructions. She became visibly upset that I would dare offend her by admitting I had to use the necessary during her watch! She proceeded to tell me to go through a certain door. I was then informed by security that she was incorrect. Security and Volunteer proceeded to have a loud discussion about what really should be done. The entire time I still needed to use the necessary. Someone finally stepped in, someone on the planning committee maybe? He was a higher ranking person, that is all I know and he helped me. Bottom line – volunteers did NOT know what was going on (especially in the signing area). They each had their own story of what would happen and spoke it like gospel without bothering to find out the truth. (Edit: turns out none of the stories they told were actually true. Every single person was incorrect.)
I also had a volunteer straight up bite my head off early in the morning while trying to buy books. I asked a simple question about a book and she said, “*SIGH* I don’t have time to deal with you. I have a lot going on.” Uh.. excuse the piss out of me? Was that necessary? The answer (always) is no. Her job was to help direct people and answer questions. Guess what I was doing: asking a question about buying books – which is exactly what she was there to help with. Sorry I disturbed you, your highness. I will know to avoid your grumpy ass next year.
Morale of the story: don’t be rude to people. They are having a hard enough time as it is. Ask someone, it’s okay if you admit you don’t know.
I didn’t attend any panels. It seems that was a downfall for me as arcs were handed out at a lot of panels. When this girl has to decide if they want panels or a good spot in line for signing, the signing line will win every time.
Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I am guessing that you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. If you read my post from the last couple of years, you will remember what a nightmare the authors signing was like. I’m happy to report that it was only somewhat better this year. That was due to the simple fact that I gave up my entire afternoon to stand in line. I did have a wrist band for Cassandra Clare so that was my #1 stop of the day. The line for that was still insane.
This was the start of the non-wrist band line. I want to point out that the line curved to the right (in the photo) and went all the way along that back wall, alllllll the way out into the lobby.
I want to point out something new that was done this year: the attendees were allowed to line up early in front of the authors they wanted to meet first. It looked like chaos at first but if you think about it, it was kind of smart. It eased the lines a bit so people were not running/pushing/shoving/screaming/being stupid when the lines officially opened.
I had a game plan this year. I knew who I was going to wait in line for and had a solid plan. This is how I spent my hour and a half signing time:
First thought: Someone teach me how to pose for a photo/selfie. The struggle is real, y’all. Second: I was able to stop by every author I had hoped for! Sure, there was one that left early and I wasn’t able to get my book signed but that’s the nature of the beast. I am not going to complain.
This is how the lines looked while I waited on authors:
My Book Haul
Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 90lbs worth of books this year? Go big or go home. I go to these festivals with a mission.
All of the books I carried with me all day:
The swag I walked away with. Swag was not as plentiful this year but that is ok. I’m not a swag collector kinda gal. I am, however, a shirt and bookmark gal. If you are curious, I could tell you the horror I went through to get those enamel pins, deck of playing cards, and the Top Ten notepad. I did think I would make it out alive.
The books I took from my library to be signed:
Now what I actually had signed (this includes pre-signed books I bought there):
Books bought at the event (only 6! That’s good for me!):
The ARCS I brought home:
EDIT: Overall Thoughts
I have attended this event every year and I pride myself on that. I have watched this festival grow and evolve. Obviously some years are better than others but that can be chalked up to growing pains and learned lessons, right? As always, please remember that my opinions are all my own and they are meant to be read in a heartfelt tone. I do not mean anything harsh or derogatory tone. I am not bashing this event, nor will I. I simply have thoughts and opinions as an attendee that I feel I need to write down.
I don’t believe this year was as crowded as last year. Maybe the threat of horrible rain kept people away? Maybe it was something else. I’m not a mind reader so I do not know. I do know that there was hella security this year. You could not walk five feet without seeing a cop or security guard. I believe they were there for crowd control but most of the time they simply barked orders about always walking, never stopping. That was not enjoyable, of course, but clearly the committee felt it was necessary.
If people know me, they know that I will always bring two massive canvas bags full of books with me to be signed. I am not ever ashamed nor will I apologize. I am not the only one to do so. However, I am an avid YA reader that is always looking to expand my library. That being said, I know the publishers and committee kept a lot of the interactive sessions to teens only. Yes, that does and did hurt because the age demographic for YA readers is technically 18-64. That means I fall into that age range. Yes, more teens need to read and/or get into reading and I completely support that. But it takes me back to the question I asked last year when I was discriminated against because of my age: why do I keep going? Why do I keep my love for this genre, authors, and stories going strong? Small answer is: it makes me happy. Bigger answer: dunno. I often wonder why I keep doing what I’m doing if only to be shunned at festivals FOR YA.
I still urge everyone to try to be considerate and be nice. YES, VOLUNTEERS, I’M STILL TALKING TO YOU. I signed up to be a volunteer this year and sadly it felt unfulfilling. I was not utilized and found myself keeping the wall up at the back of the room. There were four of us volunteering in the same room and it felt like too many. Regardless, none of us yelled at attendees or tried to assert power. That means there are still good people who want to help others – hooray! It seems to be the line volunteers that need to be reminded of basic manners and how social interaction should work.
If you attended, I would love to hear your thoughts on how the day went. Did you go to panels? Did you get all of your books signed at the end of the day? Were you able to attend a TEEN ONLY event? Let me know! I really would love to hear your thoughts.