Walker Books YA Preview night

Suzie Eisfelder

I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to the Walker Books YA Preview night last week. It was very exciting, not quite as good as when I flew to Sydney for the Penguin Random House National Book Bloggers Forum 2014 (NBBF14) but that’s because in 2014 it was in person and this year Walker Books hosted us all in a webinar. In one respect it was better, there are different restrictions for a digital presentation and they were able to have more people. In 2014 there were only 50 of us, this year there were over 100! That’s over 100 people who write about books. Some in a traditional blogging manner as I do, others who write about books on instagram (bookstagrammars), and some who write about books on Youtube (booktubers), and other people who write about books in their own way. I am currently wondering if there are any people who write about books solely on Twitter and what the hashtag might be. If you know the answer to this question, or if I’ve missed out how you write about books throw a comment down below, I’d love to know.

The Walker Books YA Preview Night was a night of fun and laughter. It was hosted by Georgie and Beth. They introduced us to the concept of a webinar as opposed to a meeting. They used the Zoom platform and the main difference with these two platforms is how the participants interact. Meetings is rather more interactive and you can choose to have your video showing or not, Webinars is more lecture style where the presenters have their video showing but the participants are mostly in listen mode. We interacted with Georgie and Beth by text only. There was a text chat box and we could ‘talk’ to them via text or to any of the participants at any time during the entire hour and a bit.

After the introduction they played us various pre-prepared videos from Grainne, the Commissioning Editor in the UK office and from various authors. I won’t say I fangirled as that would be giving it away. We finished off the evening with a Trivia Quiz. 25 trivia questions about books, movies and other stuff. Out of the 25 I think I got 10 right, several of those were guesses. Trivia is not one of my fortes, especially when they’re using Kahoot which encourages speedy answers by giving you higher scores the faster you answer. The chat box was moving thick and fast during the whole game, the energy was extremely high. The top three people at the end of the game won some goodies, as did one random person. I may not be good but I still enjoyed myself.

As an attendee I now have a link to a goodie bag. Goodie bags are normally a physical bag with various books. Being digital this is a link to some preview samples of early chapters of various YA books, it’s only 209 pages! I started reading the first one by Jonathan Stroud, The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne just before I started writing this article. It shows distinct promise of being awesome, my TBR Pile may grow somewhat after I’ve read these. There are also some bonus videos they ran out of time to show us. And that’s another bonus of it being online, they can put as many videos for us as they have time to create and space to store them.

This was such a great evening. The only thing I didn’t like is not being in the actual same room as everyone. But as we’re in the middle of lockdown during a pandemic, getting everyone together is rather challenging. I feel these people did the next best thing and got us all together using the magic of technology. I’d like to thank Georgie and Beth of Walker Books for a lovely evening, it made me feel normal. Loving books as a child wasn’t considered normal in my youth, it’s nice to feel normal.

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