Isabel Losada commanded an audience of creative writers, aspiring poets and novelists at Heart on Wednesday night as she gave advice, drawing from her own hardships in striving to become a published author.
Before she even broached the topic of writing or publishing houses, Losada conscientiously took it upon herself to make sure everyone could see her. This meant kindly asking the tall attendees to move to the back, the shorter ones to come forward and even making sure there was adequate space between each audience member.
You can’t help but be affected by Isabel’s infectious energy. She speaks emphatically with her hands, seemingly always in motion. It is no wonder that aside from writing, Losada’s other professions have included: dancer, actor, singer, and broadcaster. Her thespian skills emerged as she and a brave volunteer demonstrated in a short sketch how a writer cannot sell their work (or a broom in this case) if they don’t believe in it.
Perhaps the most valuable advice that Losada gave was also the most honest; that despite the glamourised perception of being a published author, as a writer she was earning less than minimum wage. Losada also admitted that despite a writer’s tendency to agonize over sentence structure, ultimately publishers only care whether the book will sell or not.
Losada also stressed that a writer should take it upon themselves to strategise a marketing plan as publishers often don’t make the effort to market a writer under their wings. Because of this a writer should ask themselves some very important questions:
- If my book was published, what section of the bookstore would it be in?
- What is my book similar to and how did this book sell?
- Where does my book fit into the marketplace?
When submitting work Losada said it was best to be tactical: approaching as many publishing houses and agents as you could, sending one chapter, sending three chapters, or merely resending material that was “rewritten”.
If a writer wanted to be successful, Losada advised they should make sure the first page of their submission was compelling, was free of spelling mistakes, and that it was okay to phone up an agent before to ask practical information about submission guidelines.
Drawing near the end, Losada read excerpts from her many rejection letters which all seemed to contradict each other making for a lighthearted reflection. Rejection letters should be welcomed, she stressed, because if a writer didn’t have any, they obviously weren’t trying.
Losada recently published The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment, a book in which she describes her foray into alternative practises and therapies such as tantric sex, astrology, tai chi, colonic irrigation, and rebirthing in an attempt to become a happy Westerner.
A followup, The Battersea Park Road to Paradise deals with Losada’s introduction to Vipassana meditation, the teachings of Anthony Robbins, shamanism, and feng shui will be published in May.
For any wordsmith looking for straight forward advice on publishing, Losada will certainly give it, sprinkled with a theatrical flair and energetic delivery.
Christina is a freelance copywriter with experience in social media who received a B.A. in English at the University of Louisville in 2009 and settled in the United Kingdom in 2010.