Friday, 3 September 2010

Almost 5'4"

I came across Isobella Jade's book while doing my usual browse in my local bookstore and it jumped out to me for many reasons. A story about a model who is unconventionally small is interesting and the fact that she wrote the whole book in the Apple Store is particularly fascinating. Almost 5'4" are the memoirs of Isobella Jade who is a jobbing model in New York City and it shows the less than glamorous aspect of the modelling industry. While the supermodels enjoy a life of film premieres, champagne, designer clothes and glossy magazine shoots, the reality is all very different for Isobella. She has to slum it on public transport and struggle to meet rent each month. Almost 5'4" was published in February this year and was met to critical acclaim in the press. I caught up with Isobella to talk about books and blogs.

What was the inspiration behind the book? 
I first wrote the memoir as a personal keepsake to hold my memories of my early modeling pursuits. However, after writing it, the memoir started to have more than a personal meaning, and as the internet-age inspired more girls of all sizes to want to be models and search on the internet for answers, the book became a story of a model these girls could relate to. Also there weren’t any books out there about modeling from a shorter girl’s perspective so I figured it was about time! Fashion is not everything in modeling. Measurements are not everything in modeling.

You wrote the book in the Apple Store in Manhattan (which I find amazing) how did you manage to get away with that?
I’d go to the store daily, and soon I became a regular. I had already been using the store for about nine months when I started writing Almost 5’4” there. Writing it at the store was just adding something to my daily do-it-list while using the computers to check my email and update my social media. It felt comfortable; the environment was very innovative, creative, and alive.

How long did it take you to write the book? 
I wrote at the store for about four months.

How did you go about getting your book deal? 
I first self published my memoir Almost 5’4” and self promoted it to the press and media. Writing the memoir and promoting it taught me that it is possible to do-it-yourself, and that putting yourself out there can lead to great things. I gained the belief in “building and creating yourself.” Which I had done in modeling, but doing it publishing cemented my belief that it will be work, but it is possible to build a dream.
After the rewrites and editing, how much input did you have in the marketing of the book? Did you have any say on the cover design and the title? 
Authors are their best marketers. It can help to have a PR team working with you of course, but whenever I work on a book project I already have in mind the marketing I hope to accomplish. I like to postal mail my books, include a handwritten note and personally sign them when I mail them to reporters, magazine editors, etc. Almost 5’4” comes from the height that reads on my modeling comp card, 5’4”. I am really shorter than that actually, hence the “Almost” in the title. For the US edition the cover is a photograph from my modeling pursuits taken by Michael McCabe, for UK edition of Almost 5’4” my publisher thought an illustration inspired by that photo would look nice and I approved it.

What advice do you have to a budding novelist? 
To not be afraid. To aim high and don’t think you are not capable of getting great features in magazines or publications because you are “a new author,” – so what! It is a must or authors to be marketers, if you want a certain feature in a magazine or newspaper, then get out there, research, mail, hustle and get your book to the right editor or person. Take a chance on yourself. I also suggest “knowing yourself and your work and knowing who would like it.” Ask yourself “What type of person would read this book?” I think knowing your reader, knowing what else they read, knowing the magazines and blogs they read it is a good idea. Authors have to be more than writers to build a business and brand around themselves, however I think it is important to hold on to the “reason you write.”

Who are your favourite authors? 
When I read I want to be inspired or learn something, I want to learn about someone else’s journey and life, whether it is big or small. I love biographies and memoirs. Chanel: A Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen, Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I also love reading about the roots and history of companies, businesses and brands, What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. I also like the honesty in books by Jonathan Ames.

Describe a typical day for you. 
My day starts with coffee. In the morning I write for a couple hours, update my blog, social media, put together my press kits, run to the post office to mail magazines and publications that I want to be featured in. Or reach out to people I want to work with, go to modeling castings, have meetings with my photographer friends about collaborating on projects, on the train write in my journal notes, make a video blog, set up my podcast segment for my podcast, and write, research, write, research, write, research, and somewhere in there I eat. I work on more than one project at once because my energy needs to be used. Right now I am preparing to publish a new book of unpublished modeling stories called Short Stuff in the fall, and also I am working on a fictional teen novel, and a how-to-modeling book based on my blog. I’d love to see my memoir Almost 5’4” become a film or TV series so I have been preparing a screenplay. So I have a lot of visions running through my mind. Usually I get in bed at 12:30am or 1am. and read books on my iPhone or toss and turn until 2am.

You are such an inspirational as both an author and a model. What is next for Isobella Jade?
Among my books, and my advocating through social media and Web 2.0, I think my future will be in inspiring girls to do what they want to do and to stay realistically ambitious and to have a goal and dream to chase. I plan to share that message in many formats. I really love chasing the chance that each day brings, I love the possibility of success. I love starting with an idea; a thought, a wonder, and seeing it come to life. I wake up for that. To prove to myself and others that it is possible, but you really do have to give yourself a chance.

You can buy 5'4" from amazon.

You can read Isobella's blog here and you can check out her website.

You can follow her on Twitter.

Check out the trailer for Almost 5'4" below.

1 cool comments:

Kwana said...

Great post and interview. Jade's book sounds wonderful. Thanks.