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Guest Post: Writers and Agents; a Dysfunctional Relationship – Erica Manfred

By Donnambr @_mrs_b

I’m delighted to welcome Erica Manfred to the blog today to share a guest post.  I have also reviewed Erica’s new novel, Interview with a Jewish Vampire.

Guest post: Writers and Agents; a Dysfunctional Relationship

Like many writers, I didn’t set out to be an Indie author.  I wanted to get a big advance from a major publisher, be interviewed on the Today Show, be reviewed in the New York Times, see my name on stacks of books at Barnes and Noble, and wind up with a bestseller.  Such was not my fate, unfortunately.

I will backtrack a bit here.   I’m a professional writer with some impressive credits, including two traditionally published non fiction books and many articles and essays in major publications.  That’s how I got an agent for a proposed memoir I was writing called I Married the Wrong Man.   It was funny, wise, and totally without what they call in the industry, a narrative arc, i.e. a plot.   You didn’t know a memoir had to have a real plot, preferably with a happy ending like Eat, Pray, Love, did you.  Well it does.   I’d written the story of my life and I was still alive, so the ending, which involved my divorce from said wrong man, didn’t end with me finding a new love and happiness and walking off into the sunset.   It actually involved my ending up depressed and broke with an emotionally disturbed daughter.  How can you turn that into a happy ending? You can’t.

Somehow that fact eluded the agent who offered to represent the memoir because, as she said,  “I like your writing.”   However,  at some point she woke up from her fantasy that she could actually sell my book, re-read the entire proposal and basically told me the book  didn’t work at all, and I should re-think it.  One might ask why she’d agreed to represent it in the first place, which I did actually ask, but got the answer “no good deed goes unpunished.”   That cut both ways for me and her.   I’d already spent about $1500 on a book doctor who thought it did work, and I’d done many rewrites and was sick of it.   The agent had no idea how I could re-write it or improve it, which is what agents generally do.  Geez!

At the same time I was working on a novel in a writers critique group: Interview with a Jewish Vampire.   I read them the first pages and they begged for more.   I can’t resist an audience, so every week I wrote a few more pages.  Luckily this group met weekly so I kept going.   They refused to let me give up.   By the way a weekly critique group is a great way to stick to a project.

I finished Interview and sent it to my agent, who loved it.  Great, right?  Not!   Agents suffer from grandiose delusions and think that just because they’re literary agents they can sell any kind of book.  She decided my book fit into the romance category and sent it to a bunch of romance editors whom she didn’t know and had never dealt with before.   Most of them gave it to their assistants, 22 year old girls with absolutely no sense of humor.   When I saw a rejection from a Jessica Wang, I knew I was in trouble.  A friend of mine who used to be an editor told me that this is standard operating practice.  Unless the editor knows the agent personally she doesn’t even read the book.

In the meantime I went to a conference of romance fans, specifically fans of “dark” romances.   A lot of romance authors showed up to talk to their fans, and so did agents who specialized in representing romances, including humorous ones like mine.   I had a pitch session with a really savvy New York agent who “got” my book, and who actually had contacts with the right editors.  She was very interested and told me to send her a few chapters.  I knew I was being unfaithful to agent #1, but at this point I didn’t care.   I sent agent #2 the proposal and chapter and she regretfully got back to me that she couldn’t represent me because my current agent had already approached too many editors and it was too late for her to take over.

After much gnashing of teeth, and tearing out of hair, my agent and I came to a parting of the ways.   It’s not clear to this day who fired who, but it is clear that we were fed up with each other.   I decided to go it alone with Interview with a Jewish Vampire and self-published it.  Will it do as well as it would have if I’d found a publisher?   I’ll never know.   What I do know is that when it comes to literary agents, it’s writer beware.

About the book


Guest post: Writers and Agents; a Dysfunctional Relationship – Erica Manfred

Interview with a Jewish Vampire, Erica Manfred, ISBN: 0971096813

The last thing zaftig middle-aged journalist, Rhoda Ginsburg, expected when she signed up for JDate was to fall in love with a vampire. But when she meets drop-dead gorgeous Sheldon, a Hasidic vampire, she falls hard. She rationalizes that he may not be alive, but at least he’s Jewish. 

She learns that back in the nineteenth century Sheldon was a rabbi who was turned into a vampire by Count Dracula, an anti-Semite who got his kicks from turning Orthodox Jews into vampires because then they’d have to drink blood, which isn’t kosher.

Soon after she meets Sheldon, she discovers her beloved mother, Fanny, is terminally ill, so she comes up with the crackpot idea of getting Sheldon to turn Fanny and her friends, known as “the goils,” into vampires. Once she becomes a vampire, Fanny tires of her boring life in Century Village, Florida, and, seeking thrills, she goes clubbing and disappears into the nightlife of South Beach in Miami. When Fanny and her goil posse “go rogue” and start preying on the young, Rhoda and Sheldon must track them down to keep them from killing again. 

Interview with a Jewish Vampire turns vampire lore on its head, proving that not all vampires are young and beautiful and it IS possible to be undead and kosher. 

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon ES

Guest post: Writers and Agents; a Dysfunctional Relationship – Erica Manfred
Erica Manfred is a freelance journalist, humorous essayist, and author.   Her most recent book is the novel,  Interview with a Jewish Vampire.  She’s also authored two non-fiction self-help books, including most recently He’s History You’re Not; Surviving Divorce After Forty.   Her articles and essays have appeared in Cosmopolitan, The New York Times Magazine, Ms., New Age Journal, Village Voice, Woman’s Day, SELF, Ladies Home Journal, and many other publications.  Erica lives in Woodstock, New York with her Chihuahua, Shadow, and her daughter, Freda. Brought up by Jewish parents who spoke Yiddish but avoided religion, she got her Jewish education at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation which welcomes Jews from all backgrounds, from atheist to Orthodox, to vampire.

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