The Slush Pile

When you’re writing a letter pitching your book to an agent, the last thing you need to do is tell them you’re willing to send the whole manuscript if requested. Believe me, they know that you’d do anything if it meant they’d read the first page of your book. Some of them are even willing to take advantage of this.

I should have been suspicious when an agent emailed me back, six months after my initial letter, saying that she would read my whole book if I went into the sewers of Melbourne and met her there. I was so caught up in fantasies of the agent loving my work and it being published, becoming a bestselling author and having a movie made based on my book that I didn’t think twice about it. Her request sounded perfectly reasonable.

Of course, it wasn’t reasonable at all. As I climbed down the ladder, beneath the streets, I thought about how the Melbourne sewers need repairs quite badly. The water level was higher than usual, and I had to wade through it to get to our meeting point. When I finally reached the agent, I didn’t even ask why she’d wanted to meet me there of all places. Part of me hoped that it was because she expected my book to be so good that our meeting had to be completely private. Nobody would hear us talking about contracts and deals among every blocked sewer in Melbourne. It made sense to me.

As it turns out, she wasn’t an agent at all. I will spare you the horrific details, but to put it simply, I had to fight my way out of there. She must have hijacked the real agent’s email to lure innocent people down to the sewers. A bit convoluted, but whatever works for her. So that’s how I know that writers lose all critical thinking as soon as an agent breathes in their general direction. They really are just normal people. Except when they turn out to be sewer monsters that want to add you to their slush pile.