YALLWEST goes Digital for 2020, April 25th & 26th!

(Last Updated On: April 16, 2020)

Concerts, sporting events, and festivals of all shapes and sizes have been cancelled while COVID-19 ravages around the globe. Book festivals such as YALLWest and Book Con are among the countless events cancelled in 2020. The ripple effect of these closures are yet to be seen, but these events are among the only way for readers (who aren’t reviewers/content creators) to engage with authors and publishers. Book events like these and book tour stops are a vital way for authors to connect with readers and promote their upcoming work.

I was actually registered to attend both BookCon in NYC (with Kate @ Your Tita Kate) and YALLWest (with Dev @ Read by Dev). I’m not gonna lie, I am a bit sad to not be able to hang out with bookish friends but I am really happy that some events are being shifted into online models for 2020!

YALLWest Sessions I’m Attending

The organizers have put together an AMAZING two-days of panels and discussions, all free, that can be accessed anywhere!

Timezones mean that not all of the sessions may not be an option for everyone (Jay Kristoff’s moderating a panel at 4 a.m. Australia time!), but I am pleased at the fully digital options they pulled together in less than a month and hope this will be the start of digital conventions as an option moving forward. (And that recordings will be made available after the fact!)

Saturday, April 25th Panels

Panel descriptions are from the Yallwest Schedule found on their website.

Opening Ceremony + AM Keynote @ 10:00 a.m. Pacific
Marg and Mel open the festival and talk all things Little Women with guests to be announced!

Moderated by Melissa de la Cruz & Margaret Stohl

Modern Magic Worldbuilding @ 12:00 p.m. Pacific
n 2020, where do you begin and what do you steal from the real world, especially when the real world is a garbage fire?
Moderated by Ransom Riggs
Featuring Melissa Albert, Adalyn Grace, Francesca Flores, Frances Hardinge, Margaret Rogerson, and Tracy Wolff

Truth Talking in Tough Times @ 2:00 p.m. Pacific
Whether pulled from political headlines or history books these writers grapple with big issues that define our times.
Moderated by Nic Stone
Featuring Becky Albertalli, Cecil Castellucci, Traci Chee, Romina Garber, and Sarah Watson

Facing the Enemy: Hope, War & Revolution @ 3:00 p.m. Pacific
How do you resist when the world is at war? How do these characters start revolutions or stop them? How can we be inspired in 2020, as we face an unseen enemy of our own?
Moderated by Victoria Aveyard
Featuring Hafsah Faizal, Isabel Ibaรฑez, Jordan Ifueko, Victoria Lee, and Danielle Paige

YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown @ 6:00 p.m. Pacific

Join hosts Angie Thomas and Nic Stone for the first ever virtual Smackdown!

Sunday, April 26th Panels

Suckage is Part of Writing @ 11:00 a.m. Pacific
Authors vent about their biggest writing frustrations– and how to overcome them!
Moderated by Jay Kristoff
Featuring Janella Angeles, Marisa Kanter, Amie Kaufman, Alex London, Tara Sim, and Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Whodunit and Why Do We Care? @ 12:00 p.m. Pacific
What is the mystery of mysteries? What’s thrilling about thrillers? What are the tricks of writing them? Ask these masters of the craft.

Moderated by Karen McManus
Featuring Mintie Das, Stephanie Garber, Stuart Gibbs, Rory Power, and Liliam Rivera

Worldbuilding Beyond Wikipedia @ 1:00 p.m. Pacific
How do you do the research to write historical fiction, and when do you have to let the history books go and start your own world building?

Moderated by Roshani Chokshi
Featuring Renรฉe Ahdieh, Gwenda Bond, Jennifer Donnelly, Marie Lu, and Bethany C. Morrow

There are so many more events and activities – some happening earlier in the week leading up to the festival! – so be sure to check out the full YALLWEST schedule and register for the sessions you’re interested in! (Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see all the giveaways going on leading up to next weekend!)


Is this a Watershed Moment for Change?

The publishing industry has been slow to adapt to the ever-changing market and technological advances. While I am saddened for the circumstances, I am happy to see the industry adapting to the moment to do the best they can for their authors, the readers, and the industry at large.

It often takes an external push of necessity for change to happen. We now know that digital panels and events can be done and that there is interest. Conventions can be made accessible for disabled and international fans, and I hope this will lead to a more inclusive future of marketing plans.

If you’re able, I encourage you to register to attend to show there is overwhelming interest to continue some online options in future years!


Are you planning on attending any of the YALLWest Online Sessions? If so, which ones? Do you think that this may lead to more virtual options for events moving forward? Let’s chat all things bookish events in the comments!

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. Maude

    April 16, 2020 at 9:57 PM

    I wish I could register to attend but I’ll probably be at work ๐Ÿ˜ข Online book festivals are a thing I’ve been waiting for for a long time, as a book blogger outside of the US – when I lived in Europe, I’d see all these nice festivals in the US and just… no way for non-American bloggers to possibly attend ! Online options are great to help make the festivals more accessible for people, and I wish we would have those options more in the future, even outside the context of a pandemic – but I’m not convinced that this change will last, even if it would be beneficial for a lot of people.

    1. Kal

      April 20, 2020 at 2:30 PM

      Honestly, it’s about time that organizers dip their feet into online events like this! I really do hope this will be the start of a trend moving forward of having online components and possibly even online streaming of keynotes for in-person events. I’m sorry you won’t be able to attend any of these, hopefully they will upload them after the fact.

  2. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

    April 17, 2020 at 2:35 AM

    I’m so happy you can attend this lovely event and hope it will be fantastic! I was thrilled to see some events going digital and some initiatives for live instagram launches and such, because it feels like such a lovely opportunity for people who can’t travel or just are across the world, just as well. It really is a start in making these kind of festivals more accessible to everyone and I really, really wish this is a thing that could…. well, turn into a real thing someday, even if I doubt so ahah ๐Ÿ™‚
    Hope you’ll have tons of fun!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Kal

      April 22, 2020 at 2:53 PM

      I’m excited I’m able to attend these, I was a little sad because I was volunteering at YALLWest this year until it got cancelled. I LOVE all of the IG events and other things happening, though. Sad it took so long to for things to be made a bit more accessible and I hope some of these will continue once life returns to some sense of normalcy.

  3. Marley

    April 17, 2020 at 8:06 AM

    I’ve signed up for a few panels, including the Modern Magic Worldbuilding, and I’m really excited for them! I think it’s a great opportunity for everyone who couldn’t normally attend to have the opportunity, so I hope that this goes well and encourages book cons to have at least a few elements online, whether it’s streaming panels live or hosting online Q&A sessions.

    1. Kal

      April 22, 2020 at 3:20 PM

      YAY, I’m happy to hear you’re able to attend a couple of panels!! And I agree – I really hope that some online elements will be incorporated into future events moving forward — conferences have been streaming panels online for years; the publishing industry is just so slow to change unless forced haha

  4. Kate @ Your Tita Kate

    April 17, 2020 at 8:35 AM

    This sounds like such a wonderful initiative. I’m only sad it took a literal worldwide pandemic for the publishing industry to sit up and take notice of the need for events like this…
    Anyway I’m definitely gonna register for a few of these panels! (After converting the time to Philippine timezone skskskdasd time to make tons of coffee)

    1. Kal

      April 22, 2020 at 3:22 PM

      I know, I am still so annoyed that it took a pandemic for them to figure out how to do online elements… but at least we have them now. I hope that this is a trend that will continue moving forward. I am so excited you’ll be attending panels too, I admire your dedication to sparkle motion!

  5. Phantom Paper

    April 17, 2020 at 10:06 AM

    Wow, ABOUT TIME! It’s sad that it had to take such a tragic situation as this pandemic in order for the publishing industry to change and be more inclusive. But I’ll take the silver lining. I’m anticipating this!! I wanna check out Fierce Friday, haven’t finished going through the schedule yet. Thanks for sharing, Kal! ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

    1. Kal

      April 22, 2020 at 3:24 PM

      The one good thing to come out of the pandemic is the innovation in the event space, finally. I just hope it goes well enough to encourage it to continue in part moving forward. I hope you will be able to attend some of the panels, Safiyya!

  6. Jamie @BubblyBooks

    April 17, 2020 at 3:54 PM

    This is so great!! Thanks for letting me know about this I will for sure be signing up for some of the panels!! Great post as always ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Kal

      April 22, 2020 at 3:26 PM

      You’re welcome, and I hope you are able to attend the panels you’re interested in!

  7. Gerry

    April 19, 2020 at 5:54 AM

    These look wonderful and a lovely idea to have an online platform especially for those who wouldn’t normally be able to attend. This makes this so inclusive for those who are unable to attend but also adds the element of international to book events as well!

    1. Kal

      April 22, 2020 at 3:29 PM

      I know, I am SO HAPPY that they were able to convert the entire festival online in less than a month – it looks amazing~! I really hope that some online elements will continue once things go back to normal as well, because it makes these events more accessible for disabled and international readers.

  8. Haley

    April 19, 2020 at 7:18 AM

    Without you, I never would have known this was a thing, so I’m hopping to it, RIGHT NOW. I have been sad to see things get cancelled though I totally agree with them being cancelled…so…this is such a happy thing to see atm <3

    1. Kal

      April 23, 2020 at 11:53 AM

      AHH, I’m so glad you saw this post so you can attend some sessions!!! I agree though, it is sad… I am glad there’s a little positive coming out from it though.

  9. Pam Zaragoza-Quinones

    April 21, 2020 at 12:37 AM

    Though I’ll have to wake up very early for some of the panels I signed up for, I’m very excited! ๐Ÿ˜€ #InternationalReaderStruggles

    1. Kal

      April 26, 2020 at 1:25 AM

      I’m so glad you’ll be able to attend… even though you’re waking up early for them! At least there’s coffee, haha

  10. Anna (Scones & Tomes)

    April 25, 2020 at 12:25 PM

    This was such an awesome post~ It looks like we’ll be in Modern Magical Worldbuilding, Facing the Enemy, and Worldbuilding without Wikipedia together. I am hopeful that virtual conferences continues to be an option going forward, partly because this whole COVID-19 social distancing thing will probably end up lasting quite a while but also because it would open up the world of book cons to so many more people, not just those who can afford to travel.

    1. Kal

      May 1, 2020 at 1:55 PM

      Ahhh, those panels were so good – did you enjoy them as much as I did Anna? I really hope that online components continue moving forward because it is so much free publicity and it brings down barriers for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.

  11. AhanaRao

    April 27, 2020 at 8:05 AM

    Yassss! THIS WAY EVERYONE HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO ATTEND! ๐Ÿ˜ such a great initiative. Iโ€™m so glad youโ€™re attending it and I hope you absolutely love it. Thank you for speaking about it! ๐Ÿฅฐ

    1. Kal

      May 1, 2020 at 2:03 PM

      While it was far from perfect, I think it was a good start and hopefully the organizers will incorporate some online features in the future — they are allegedly going to upload the panels eventually, which is nice. I think the Diverse Book Fest was incredible, and Everywhere Book Fest is this weekend & so good!

      1. AhanaRao

        May 2, 2020 at 6:22 AM

        ๐Ÿ˜โ™ฅ๏ธ AHHH! YAS please. Upload away! *cheers from the sidelines*

        Iโ€™m glad!!

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