Alex Call kills 1000’s of sex-crazed red ink ants with one blow!
My editor, Karen Adams, sent me the marked-up manuscript for “867-5309/Jenny: the song that saved me”. I was so excited: edited at last!
You have to remember that I am book virgin. Go easy on me, be gentle. I thought I was getting my finished book back. Sit back and have some hummus on celery sticks; it’s easy street from here on in. didn’t realize that an edited ms. would look like it was being sexually molested by red-ink ants. They were everywhere, closely packed around tasty morsels of bad grammar and poorly punctuated, run on sentences: hundreds, nay, thousands, hordes beyond counting, like Xerxes’ army at the gates of Thermopylae. Overwhelmed but brave, I would face them down, one by one. I waded in and corrected twenty pages. Accept or reject the insertion or deletion. Accept or reject the insertion or deletion. Accept or reject the insertion or deletion. Hell in digital format.
OMIGOD. It would never end. I went to the tools in “review” above the Word doc and searched, box by box. I found it: “accept all insertions/deletions” or whatever it was called. I called it, “Thank You Great Lord of Microsoft”. One click and the sex-crazed red-ink ants were banished to the nether kingdom from which they emerged, gone like last hour’s rain in the Mojave Desert. Surely, I had witnessed a miracle, yea, even as unto them that lived in the days of old.
Now I was confident. I had seen enough in those twenty pages to know that Karen had fixed my crappy, inconsistent bits but hadn’t engaged in any editorial “voice”, hadn’t chopped out whole chunks of the narrative. I sent it to Jonathan Womack, editor-in-chief and Head Honcho (there’s a great word — honcho—there’s no mistaking what a honcho is, is there?) of Charles River Press: The Man.
I had an anxious moment. What if Jon decided to take the chainsaw to parts of my story? I knew he liked a tight story and that it was fairly common to cut ten to fifteen percent of the manuscript out. My heart raced in my chest. Oh, no! My oh-so-hard-fought-for book? Would some of my favorite parts be gone?
His email came back. He’d like to “tighten up” the story. My elation sank like a mine-struck U-boat. Yet I didn’t give up. I regrouped my viscera and sent off an email, asking him to leave the story the way it was. I was going to go out into the word and sell it and I wanted to sell what I had worked so hard at putting together, not someone else’s version, not even if by worldly standards it might even be improved slightly. It would no longer be mine.
When I was a mere whelp I had a solo career on Arista records that lasted one album and one music video. I let myself be blown this way and that by various advisers with differing views on what my album should be like, who I should “be” as my musical persona. I wanted to go with one aspect of my musical persona (I can do different kinds of music), my “socially conscious” persona: Springsteen, Jackson Browne. The other choices were more “Michael MacDonald”, or even “metal-pop”. Yikes! I caved to pressure, compromised, and it didn’t bring me or the album good results. It’s a longer story than that, and hey, buy the book in October and you can read all about it.
Back to present. I called Sherri Rosen, a publicist from New York. I met Sherri through my publisher Jonathan Womack. Sherri is an accomplished, pro publicist with loads of big clients. What resonated with me is that she was a force behind Tricycle, and Buddhist/meditation high-end magazine. I like Tricycle’s classiness, if that’s a word, plus I have studied Buddhism and meditation for years. Sherri has a blunt, practical, can-do New York attitude (as opposed to the hidden stiletto attitude I have experienced too often in Los Angeles show biz people-it’s in the book).
What any artist needs to look for are people who “get” what you’re doing. Everyone can reject your song (or book) and you can come to regard your sparkly gem as a turd in the punchbowl, until that one right star hears it, gets it, cuts, it and has a hit with it. There is no sense in trying to please people who don’t get it. How do I know this? Guess. Been there, rammed my head into a skyscraper many times (another great word—skyscraper—what else do you need to know?).
When I tried shopping 867-45309 the book, I was summarily rejected by some big publishers and snotty literary agents. They didn’t know the world of rock music. A book by a rock musician who wasn’t Keith Richards? Ho-hum, sorry,”maybe another agent will feel differently”. So when Jonathan Womack and then Sherri Rosen got excited by my project, I knew I had the team. Sherri told me that music had saved her life. Jon is a singer-songwriter.
Try to remember this when some young music executive ho-hums you out the door after you’ve just played him your hit song: Find the person who gets it, Forget the ho-hummers. (they’ll be your best buddies after you’ve hit it big—“ I always believed in you!”—then they’ll try to get your publishing). Hello skyscraper.
As far as anxiety goes, well, Sherri has to read the book now, it must be formatted, the cover art finalized and galley proofs made and then—dum-de-dum-dum!!—sent to reviewers. Oy!
At least the hordes of red-ink ants have been sent scurrying back into their grammar-lusting hell from which they emerged.
As always, please forgive any early morning typos…and write me back..
Have great day, Alex