Festival of Books Diary: Saturday AM

By Neal Comment

9 A.M.: I arrive at the dining hall of the UCLA faculty center, which serves as the “green room” for Festival of Books authors, and immediately run into Little, Brown editor Reagan Arthur, who has two authors (George Pelecanos and Josh Ferris) with competing panels when the programming kicks off at 10. Laura Lippman comes over to say hello. Lee Goldberg comes by with a copy of my book for me to sign, and an ARC of his latest Monk tie-in novel for me to read. I get all fanboy with Rajiv Chandrasekaran, but manage not to gush too much.

10 A.M.: Sit in on “Publishing: The Brass Tacks” panel, since I know Peter Osnos and Kim from LA fairly well. Kim opens up with some remarks about a published author needs to use his or her networking skills to develop “a community of people joined together to create excitement around your book.” Osnos agrees: “People don’t appreciate the degree to which these are partnerships of shared interest.” He adds that the pessimism so prevalent in discussions of the industry “seriously underestimates people’s need to get certain kinds of information in certain ways,” and touches briefly on how his Caravan Project aims to address that need with an array of technologies. Meanwhile, Sandy Dijkstra acts as if she’s on a “So You Want to Be a Writer?” panel and starts giving out advice about finding an agent by checking the acknowledgments section in books you like, and how you shouldn’t send agents a manuscript wrapped in a doily. I start to think about how I’m here instead of listening to Meghan O’Rourke talk about book reviewing with David Ulin. Then I remind myself I’m missing Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle talk about food, and I get more depressed. I decide to bail and run back to my hotel room to retrieve the moleskine I somehow managed to forget, because otherwise I will worry all day that it’s actually lost. When I get back to the green room, I run into my friend Ruth Andrew Ellenson and catch up with her while Gina Nahai (left) goes deep into conversation wtih Hope Edelman