The women’s music book that ate my brain

zombieNo, it’s not about zombies. I don’t write horror or science fiction. What I do write is non-fiction, usually about music. I’ve published a memoir and enough articles and blog posts to paper a three-bedroom split-level ranch house. The first draft of my second book, one about women’s music of the seventies and eighties, is currently lurching among publishers, looking for a home.




Therese Edell photo

Therese Edell. Photo by Toni Armstrong Jr

About the book

I was greatly moved by Therese Edell’s passing in 2011. It got me thinking about the other amazing artists that women’s music has lost, not to mention all the producers, DJs and so many more. I decided to write a book about them, as well as the ones who are still on the planet. I excitedly interviewed everyone from festival producer Lisa Vogel to singer-songwriter Deidre McCalla. I scoured the excellent LGBTQ music site Queer Music Heritage and pulled out my old copies of women’s music publication Hot Wire. (I have every issue of Hot Wire, save for issue number one. If you have it and want to sell it to me for less than the cost of a fully loaded Toyota truck, contact me.) Several stellar photographers offered me so many great photos I could publish a book containing only those.

Book proposals went to three academic publishers in 2016. Right away, one gave me an advance contract. I sent them the full first draft. After a few months, they told me they wanted a different book. Fortunately, they had no argument with my writing skills. Unfortunately, to do what they wanted would take me another year or two and it’s a book I’m not sure I wanted to write. I considered my options, told them no, and got out of the contract.

I went through my list of academic publishers and sent a proposal to every one that published books about LGBT history, music and/or feminist topics. One by one, they said no. Right now, it’s at another publisher. If they say no, I have a few more to try. Frankly, I am frustrated. Every week, whether or not I’ve said anything about it, I get inquires from fans about the book. It’s like I’m facing a room full of starving people and I’m holding plates of steaming fragrant hamburgers and hot salty fries, or, if you’re vegetarian, a freshly grilled portobello mushroom dripping with melted mozzarella on a whole wheat bun. (If you’re vegan, I’ll leave off the cheese. You’re welcome.)

bookI know there’s a demand for the book. If I get to the end of my possible publishers list and I don’t find one, I can self-publish. With a good editor and a good platform, all things are possible. However, even though I’ve self-produced my ten albums, I don’t know as much about the publishing world so I’d rather have a publisher. (How many times can I use “publish” and its various forms in one paragraph?)

Suggestions for publishers would be welcome but keep in mind that large publishers like Random House require an agent. That’s a process that could take months or years and is probably only good if you’re Margaret Atwood. In other words, books that sell in the millions. And while there’s a market for this book, I probably won’t sell quite that many, unless Lady Gaga personally endorses it. Another thing to remember is that I’ve tried every possible academic press in the U.S and Canada. Really. Even the ones where I had a personal connection. Even the ones where their campus was used for a women’s festival. Even the ones where I promised every staff person a case of gourmet dark chocolate. So, unless you’re sleeping with an editor from an academic press, I probably can’t go that route.

portabello mushroom sandwichI’ll wait to hear from the publisher that currently has my book. If they say no, I have a couple more publishers to bug try. I know that many of you are waiting for the book and I want you to know that I’m still out there, fighting the good fight, hamburgers and portobello mushrooms in hand. Or something like that. Meanwhile, if you want to read about women’s music, you can find some blog posts here.

Other writing

DriveAllNightS400I have a chapter in Happy Hour, about lesbian bars, that’ll be out this fall. I’m still writing bios and web content for musicians. Contact me here if you’d like to know more. I’m also a staff writer for Blue Night Soundscapes. My first book, Drive All Night, is available here. And as always, I keep writing songs. Hopefully in the next year or two I can put out another album. I’ve got ten already. Why stop now? Hear my music here (free downloads, too!).

Performing and teaching

I teach guitar, ukulele, and mandolin in my home studio in Ottawa as well as via Skype. Write me to find out more. My performance schedule is here. I’m doing solo gigs as well as concerts with Dianne Davidson and Deidre McCalla as “We Aren’t Dead Yet.” Which brings me back to zombies, sorta. I’m not dead and this women’s music book is definitely not dead.


About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
This entry was posted in Women's Music, Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The women’s music book that ate my brain

  1. Do it. Ruth Barrett self-published her first book, and it got picked up by Llewellyn Publications.

    • jamiebobamie says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. 🙂

      • I met you a long time ago at NWMF. I thought you were cool, and I still do. These days, sadly, it is very hard to break into the publishing world (my sig. other is a midlist writer) – and self-publishing isn’t what it used to be.It’s being recommended more and more as the way to go. You can do it via Amazon, actually. (I used Outskirts Press when I self-published my own book in 2008; it’s still on Amazon.0 It’s worth it. If you publish your book, I will promote it to the ends of the earth. Go, Jamie, go!

  2. jamiebobamie says:

    You rock, Elizabeth. Thanks!

  3. jono51 says:

    Glad you aren’t dead yet. I suppose self publishing is out of the question.

  4. MegC says:

    i just found your blog and i really love it!!! please write and publish the book so us the younger generation can read and know our history as a lesbians and feminists!!
    sending love and streght

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s