Book News

Last week, I spent a few days in New York. I was there to query agents for my next book, which draws on an extensive research project I undertook to investigate how we develop our sense of identity in a digital culture, why it’s so different, and what it means for the future.

While there, I met with a variety of agents and got helpful feedback. All told, it was a 50/50 mix of genuine interest and flat out rejections. I’m good with it. To be sure, New York is a tough place to sell anything. Folks are more cynical and a lot more fatigued by the noisy world. So I feel encouraged that I had a few next-step conversations. Especially considering that things got off to a rough start.

On my way to Williamsburg to meet with some fellow writers, I blundered into a fake Uber ride. At first glance, the rogue driver seemed legit. Uber sticker and all. I mean it’s Uber, so the dented and dirty Toyota Camry was somewhere on the spectrum. Mr. Scamball spoke no English and drove like a maniac through the narrow streets of Brooklyn, cratering into big potholes with badly worn shocks. When he asked me for cash, I sharply declined and leapt out. As he sped away, I realized I had left my phone in the car. I contacted Uber right away. They had no record of the driver. Rogue!

What stunned me was how many people at the writer’s conference knew about such scams. They even offered pro-tips on how to prevent it from happening again, “Next time, make the guy say your name before you get in!”, insisted a novelist. It was a literary equivalent of Uber group therapy, as people chipped in their stories.

A word to the wise: make the driver say your name, I tell you.