This is an interview with inspirational model Isobella Jade, author of ‘Almost 5’4″‘
Your story is one of going up against the modelling industry’s established rules and becoming successful despite them. Many authors feel the publishing industry has all these rules too.
What would you say to people trying to break into a difficult industry (and how did you break into modelling AND publishing!)
I use what I do have beyond my height to model. I use myself head to toe to model for many brands and products because I recognized that modeling is not defined by one thing anymore. I’ve done a lot of “body part modeling” for many national and global brands, which involves using your “parts” to book work, such as shoe modeling, hand modeling, leg modeling, etc. Same with publishing, being an author, and writer, it is not defined by being one thing, or doing things one right way anymore. Every single author is different and every book is different, the journey is a path meant to be crafted.
Also, fear of failure is an easy road to failure. I feel that it is ok to be the underdog, it is ok for something to be a challenge and to face that challenge, and I actually love the experiences and possibilities found in being self-made and putting your guts out there.
I have always been the underdog, it is old news to me, because before books and modeling I was a competitive track runner and on the track I was just as pint-size as the runt on the team. So putting on a competitive game face to overcome doubt has always been in my life one way or another. It is something I am thankful for actually, and I translate the mentality into publishing and all I pursue.
I started in publishing by learning about the power of self promotion when I randomly emailed publishing blogs and media sources, and told them how I wrote my first book at the Apple store when I was broke, just to see if anyone might care or think it was interesting that my desperate moment produced a book about it. What followed were news stories and a great response but that only made me want more, which meant more work, more writing, more things to do and chase. I learned tooting your own horn is worth it. Just because you build it or write it, it doesn’t mean people will come or read it, if you don’t let them know, no one will know.
Modeling is tough, publishing is tough, and for me they were and are pursuits that involve a lot of trial and error and trying. Both involve getting rejection, getting no’s and overcoming doubt sometimes.
Models can clearly be painted in a bad light online with the wrong type of pictures. What is the importance of branding yourself and how do you manage your brand online and off?
Oh yes, it is important to remember when a photo is downloaded on the Internet it stays forever. It is also good to know that just having your photo taken doesn’t make you a model and that the right photos are what you need to get ahead as a model.
I don’t think it is one thing that sells a book, or product, even if that product is yourself, I think it is many things working together. These days having a platform is important, and knowing your reader is important.
I put a poll on my blog asking the age of my readers, and found out a nice chunk of my readers are a lot younger than I thought. This was a shock but it actually inspired me to start writing a teen novel and helped me to target my readership better via the web. Bringing it back to being human in this technology world, I spend over 2 hours a week just answering emails or comments from my readership.
Also I think it is important to accept what social media tools work best and just don’t work best for your readership. I use every single social media and more, however many of my readers are teens, and instead of Twitter, they interact with more with me through Facebook, Myspace, my videos, my blog, and even directly email me through my website. Also I am getting more and more into video and digital, and I have an iPhone and have plans for creating apps. Digital and the mobile space within publishing are defiantly on the table.
I love meeting my readers face to face and I am planning to do more face to face meet-ups, signings and events that involve products and brands I use as well. At my book signing for my graphic novel MODEL LIFE, I had a live photo-shoot going on, with five petite models and a shoe company donated ten pairs of shoes for the models to wear. A few beauty and lingerie brands also donated product for guests to take home and enjoy during and after the signing, and a special pint-size martini. So you could pick up the book and also leave with a taste of the modeling world and some of my petite pride. I wear many hats as an author and I like creating memorable experiences within my books and how I promote them.
You are clearly a savvy marketer as your book is appearing everywhere, including Marie Claire. Congrats! What tips can you give to other authors for marketing their book?
When it comes to marketing a book to get buzz, I think there has to be a mixture of “being trendy” enough for media stories and “being true” enough to yourself and book to get the reader to see the heart of it, and when it all comes together you have an amazing feature.
Analyzing yourself is a job of a model and an author. It might sound simple and it is: Notice what is marketable and interesting about yourself, your product, your book. Ask yourself what would someone, a customer, consumer, reader, find interesting about what you have to offer, and the story you have to tell. Often, in modeling I have do the same asking of myself, thinking about what would a brand or product or magazine find appealing about me, beyond my height. I found that I did have more to offer, and I focused on marketing what I did have.
In publishing I think authors have to think about why their reader would like their book, even while they are writing it. I am constantly thinking about how I will market my projects, keeping notes on certain bloggers, magazine editors, a reporter who I want to send a copy of my book to. I am thinking of these things even before it is a book and it is still a Word document. So I suggest constantly being aware of reporters, editors at magazines, and who is writing about topics that relate to you and your book.
I was at Book Expo America and someone said it must be easy for me to market myself because I am a model, peppy and cute, and I will admit it doesn’t hurt to be those things, but I don’t bank on those things for features in magazines or newspapers either. I write my own press releases, research on Google for hours, approach and seek out reporters with story ideas involving my book, and give away books to people who I hope will notice it in the media. Being pretty, a certain weight or size has nothing to do with that. Mostly I am not afraid to try and put myself and story out there, because I think if you aim higher than where you are you might end up above your expectations.
You are a gorgeous model and most of us are not that blessed! Could you give us some tips for a good author bio photo?
Practice in-front of the mirror before you get in-front of the camera, and look in magazines and get inspired by the beauty ads or skincare ads you see. Communicate with the photographer what you are going for, show examples to the photographer. The face shot, the close-up, the beauty shot, the headshot- they are all tough shots to get, and it involves relaxing the face, making your face relaxed but keeping your eyes expressive. I know it might sound silly but stand in-front of the mirror learn about your face. Notice what happens when you turn it a certain way or angle, bring an ad you saw in a magazine that inspires you into the bathroom with you, and practice your smile, making your eyes look expressive but natural. It really takes confidence, feeling good inside can reflect how good your photo will look.
Can you give us a brief overview of the book ‘Almost 5’4″‘? Who would enjoy it?
My modeling memoir Almost 5’4” shares my early modeling pursuits in New York City. It takes you with me through the good, bad and ugly and self discovering encounters of being a self-made model, and shares the extremes I went through to work in an industry of standards. I wrote it at the Apple store, when I was really struggling, homeless, living out of a suitcase and didn’t have a computer. I consider it my Seabiscuit of Modeling, with a take no shit attitude and a raw and honest voice of beating the odds, overcoming your mistakes, and giving yourself a chance. Any person who is trying to build themselves from scratch will like it, and girls of all sizes and shapes who follow fashion will as well. I am currently writing a collection of modeling stories that took place after Almost 5’4”, due as an ebook and print book this summer, it will have a journal flair and will feature on-the job modeling experiences with national brands and will include modeling tips for all sizes as well. Also I am writing a teen novel, I am inspired by my readers of my blog to write a book about a group of friends who are paving their own way and being active to accomplish their own dreams.
You can buy ‘Almost 5’4″‘ on Amazon.com and at other bookstores.
You can connect with Isobella Jade at these sites:
Model Talk Radio: Isobella’s podcast radio show Model Talk weekly.
Petite Modeling tips Blog: http://petitemodelingtips.blogspot.com/
YouTube Videos: www.youtube.com/isobellajade