What I Learned from the LA Festival of Books

LA Festival WILA more appropriate title might be: what the LA Festival of Books taught me about festivals and big events in general, but I figured that was too long! Anyway, I just wanted to sum up a few things I learned over the course of two days in LA – both good and bad! Also: keep in mind that even though I live in a city of 50,000 people, I was very much like Dorothy visiting Oz – totally wide-eyed and stunned that the world is even bigger than I had ever imagined! So, without further adieu, let’s start with…

The Bad

This isn’t an “oh the world is horrid and I had some awful moments at the festival” sort of bad – it’s a “shoot son I screwed up and need to remember to prepare myself better next time” sort of bad!

Don’t Leave Any Book at Home

On Saturday, I only brought Fangirl for the Rainbow Rowell signing, thinking “oh I haven’t even read Eleanor & Park anyway, I don’t need it signed.” WRONG! I waited TWO hours in that line – for that I should have gotten both my books signed, having read them or not. The same happened with Tahereh Mafi – I only brought Ignite Me, and not Shatter Me, since I didn’t know if she even had a signing. Well, she did (duh), and I was able to buy a copy of Unravel Me and get the second two books signed, but now my copy of Shatter Me is unsigned. Stupid me!

Sunday was much better after that – I brought every single book (even my Stephanie Perkins ones even though that I wasn’t sure I’d make to her signing. Hint: I did) for all the authors I had even a possibility of meeting. So even though I had nine books to carry all day, it was beyond worth it because all my books were signed!

Sun. Screen.

You would think that, having this ghost skin all my life, I would have learned by now that even fifteen minutes of sun will burn me. But no, I don’t learn. You would think that with my dad’s side of the family being Mexican, I’d tan, but noooooo I take after my mom’s Welsh side instead! Anyway… this is the result of my idiocy – and from wearing a lace shirt that’s thinner in some places than others.

photo 1-2

See those splotches? Yeah, lace apparently doesn’t protect when it’s the really thin stuff

Isn’t that hot? Oh yes, I’m smokin’. No really – I melted the ice packs!

Use a bag that you can sling over your shoulder

Not one that requires you to hold it by hand. I swear my right shoulder is at least an inch lower than my left now – permanently. Books aren’t all that heavy – but put 9 hardbacks together and DAMN that’s hard to carry. My right arm is so sore now! Instead, be smart like the other people I saw: use a bag with a longer strap that you can put on your shoulder and have your entire torso support the weight and not hold in your hand. Or even better! Use a rolling cart, or even a suitcase with wheels.

For the love of all that is holy…

EAT. On Sunday I was so distracted by all the running back and forth and signings I wanted to attend that I barely ate. When I caught up with my mom later, I was shaking so much and didn’t even realize it was because I hadn’t eaten but for a granola bar and small cup of noodles midway through the day. Maybe it works for some people, but for me, who needs to eat every 2-3 hours to feel okay, going twelve hours with about 800 calories really doesn’t do the job.

So the lesson here is: bring lots of water and snacks, and remember to actually EAT THEM.

The Good

Now here’s the fantastic parts of the weekend – the amazing things I’ve learned about the bookish world and people in general!

Authors really aren’t that hard to talk to!

Do not be embarrassed to start a conversation! The easiest thing for me I’ve found is to just start with a hello and a “how are you?” – the rest will follow. Honestly, I’ve started by complimenting an author, and they get the biggest grin on their face and all those awkward walls come tumbling down!

Bookish people are the kindest ever!

Example A: I got lost so many times – like, honestly, what campus is four blocks wide?? It’s madness! Anyway, I never felt weird about walking up to a random person and just saying, “hey, where the heck am I?” And I was always pointed in the right direction with a smile.

Example B: I was in line for the Stephanie Perkins signing, and my earring caught on my shirt. For the life of me, I could not get it undone – my head was cocked to the side and stuck there unless I wanted to rip my shirt or break my earring. So, embarrassing as it was, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “I’m so sorry, but could you please untangle me?” She laughed and helped me out, and we laughed it off, deciding that the lesson here was ‘don’t wear long earrings with lacy tshirts!’

Example C: We’re all stuck in hour long lines, waiting for authors, so most of us – I didn’t ever get any names – just randomly started conversations. And if I heard someone talking about a book I liked, I joined in easily, and the same went for people who jumped into my conversations!.

There is actual diversity in the world!

Where I live, the majority is white and skinny. Which I’m half of. But then, even in that tiny chunk of LA, to see so many different shapes and colors of people – it was incredible. For once in my life I didn’t feel like I stood out or like people were staring at me because I’m not a size 2. There were girls the same shape as me wearing tank tops – and rocking them! I NEVER wear tank tops because I’m so self-conscious of my arms, but honestly seeing so many people looking amazing no matter their size, it really gave me some much needed confidence. So there was definitely some personal growth this weekend as well 🙂

In the end…

This was an incredible experience, and I’m so blessed to have been able to attend this event! I met amazing people and authors, experienced all new things, and actually did well! No anxiety or attacks either; I know that might not mean much and it was just another weekend for some people, but this was a huge step for me. And to have done so well and handled so much stimulation and newness – I feel like a whole new person!

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17 thoughts on “What I Learned from the LA Festival of Books

  1. I LOVE this post so much 🙂 This all makes me so happy and I love all the little lessons learned and all of it. I might share this on my blog because its SO awesome. I’m glad we were able to say hi several times this weekend!

    • Feel free to share it! I hadn’t expected to take so much way from the event to apply to later events, but it definitely helped me know what to expect for future bookish events. I was so glad we were able to catch each other too!

  2. Great post! It sounds like you had a great time. I’ve never been to a book event but you make it sound like such a great experience. That sunburn looks nasty. As a pale redhead I feel your pain. Hope it heels quickly! But hey, at least it’s a souvenir!

    • It really was a great experience – totally worth the drive and money!

      Pale people stick together! It’s nearly gone, but I’ll have a tan line for sure and it’s all peely D: I’m just going to keep putting lotion on it.

  3. It’s awesome to see that you took so much good from this event!
    I honestly can’t wait for my chance to meet a favourite author and have a conversation with them! It would be one of those experiences that I would treasure forever.
    And isn’t it amazing when you go to bigger cities and see so many different people! The diversity is so mind blowing. I remember my first trip to a bigger place, and everywhere I looked, I was seeing and meeting so many different kinds of people. It’s just crazy.
    On a side note.. I’m Welsh, too. Haha. But an olive skinned one. Welsh and Mexican is an awesome thing to say, though!

    • YES! It’s like, am I even on the same planet?? It was really nice to see so many different people all in one place.

      Well it gets a bit hilarious when I tell people my last name (Sanchez) and they see this uber-white girl xD My mom’s maiden name would work better for me I think: Schild. But either way no one believes me when I say that my dad’s side is all Mexican 😛

  4. Sounds like you had a very interesting experience 😉 I’ve never been to an event like this before but I do know whenever I do something terrible things always happen to me too xD I would have gotten burned so bad, too. And that’s awful that it happened in patches like that, ha. I never learn either.

  5. I had that same frustration over not bringing a book and realizing I could have had it signed! And it was so hard to find time to eat – it didn’t help that the food trucks had lines that rivaled the authors signing lines as well! These are such great points Kayla! I need to work on the talking with authors thing, but it is a great idea to just ask them how they are doing. I always think I need to come up with something original or interesting! I’m glad you enjoyed the festival!

    • Well, at least we learned something! And those food truck lines were awful! I ended up just picking the shortest line and hoping for the best (thank God the food was actually pretty good!).

      “How are you” is such a great conversation opener – it lets someone talk about themself for a moment, and then they turn it back on you. 90% of the time one of you will mention something, and then the conversation flows from there!

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  8. Well You only had one semi “I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE” thing with all the music but apart from that THIS WAS A DREAM COME TRUE. So proud of you for handling as well as you did. And I’m assuming you forgot to eat cause last time I also did remind you like FOOD NOW. lol It’s easier to remember to eat if you have someone else with you. And I was born in LA and lived in LA until I was 12 so its probably why I am the way I am. I am Reagen-ish 🙂 Glad you FINALLY see now that not everyone is a skinny b….. OOPS lol

    • Oh god the hand flapping. I forgot about that. That’s embarrassing! But at least I got away from it 🙂

      And yeah I got to my mom at night and my hands were shaking so much from the no food thing. This is why I need to start making phone reminders or keep you with me xD

      • HAHAHA I didn’t forget the hand flapping. That’s what besties are for. Remind you of the embarrassing things you have blocked out of your mind. 😀
        Yes, or I’ll text you next time and be like DID YOU EAT. WOMAN YOU NEED TO EAT. Problem solved. lol

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