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English Grad Becomes Book Influencer

Photos by Binaypreet Singh ’17

English and sociology grad Lea Rummel ’14 is building a following as a book blogger, reviewing books, interviewing authors and helping publishers promote new offerings. She kicked off her blog, “Life Meets Literature,” in October 2019. She promotes her posts on Instagram.

When she graduated, Rummel wanted to go into the publishing business but didn’t want to relocate. Instead, she’s been working as an electrical estimator at a Stockton company. She says blogging about books has allowed her to stay in touch with the book business.

What made you want to start the blog?

The loss of my mother was very unexpected. She passed away of heart disease but we did not think that there was anything wrong with her. She was 52 and I was only 25 when she passed. I was looking for something to help me navigate that difficult time. Many of the books that I was reading at the time helped me through that, and I wanted a way to share that with other people. I wanted to encourage people to seek out those books if they were also navigating through hardships or loss. I also wanted to show how healing and therapeutic reading and writing could be — which was actually some of the feedback that I received from several of my blog readers.

I have always been a big reader, yet after graduating college, I did not have as much time to read for fun. I set a small goal for myself in 2019 to read 12 books. I ended up reading 25. I was getting closer to the end of the year, and at the time, I was participating in this really cool 98-day challenge that the motivational speaker, Rachel Hollis, puts on. I had read her book, “Stop Apologizing,” which helps you map out how to pursue a role. So, I felt the need to get back into writing for fun. I have so many books at home, and I had been reading so many that I felt like it was such a great fit. I then found out that there was a huge network of book bloggers on Instagram and with website blogs like mine. I then found out that there were many great opportunities for people like myself, so I went for it.

What’s involved in starting a book blog? 

The first thing that I did was get a WordPress site. Overall, WordPress is a pretty user-friendly platform to get started. I purchased by domain name, which is Thereafter, I kicked off the Instagram and I started to read and review things that I already had and was interested in. Once I built a decent following — about 1,000 – 2,000 followers on Instagram — I started reaching out to publishing companies.

I found a blog post on Pinterest that walked me through the process of what to say to these publishers. For example, if there’s an upcoming release of a book that I’m interested in, I’ll email the publicist and show my interest in reviewing it. I’ll request an Advanced Readers’ Copy (ARC). Then, I’ll give them my information, and sometimes they’ll respond, and sometimes they won’t. Sometimes, the book will just show up on my doorstep. It’s a great way to review books before they come out, which actually helps out the authors when promoting their work.

What kind of books do you review?

I typically stick with fiction, yet I do a lot of nonfiction and personal development books — that’s actually how I started — as many of these books had helped me out so much. My favorite genre is dystopian, but I do a lot of women’s fiction and historical fiction. I am pretty open to various genres.  I even do young adult, knowing that many people are looking for reviews of that sort. Overall, it started with non-fiction and personal development books.

I lost my mom about two and a half years ago. I was very young. I was looking for some literature to navigate that. I found a lot of great personal development books that were very helpful and that’s where I started — that’s actually how I got into reviewing. From there, I started venturing to fiction.

Do you interview authors? Or is that separate from doing reviews?

I have had very great opportunities to connect with some of the authors that I’ve read works by. Karen Keilt wrote a memoir called, “The Parrot’s Perch,” and I was able to speak with her over email and Instagram. Most recently, a book called, “The Roxy Letters,” was released by Simon & Schuster — which is one of the bigger publishing companies — and they invited me to a virtual release party because the author was not able to have an in-person one. The book launched on April 7, 2020. We had a virtual Zoom party and I was able to speak with the author through that. I actually just received a message from their publicity team today asking if I would like to help further promote the book by having the opportunity to interview her.

Overall, the opportunities are there. The book bloggers are sometimes referred to as the “bookstagramers.” We use Instagram as a promotional platform— almost like being influencers for books. I have seen a lot of people get some really great opportunities to interview authors that way, which is one of the more exciting parts of the reviews.

Is interviewing authors the coolest opportunity that you’ve gotten?

Yes. Being able to speak with the authors and reading books before they come out is very exciting — especially ones that I have been anticipating. There was actually one book that I was very excited about by Dave Hollis, who is the husband of Rachel Hollis, the person who put on the 98-day challenge that I spoke about earlier. His book just came out in March, and I told myself that it would be the most exciting advanced copy that I could get. So, I went ahead and sent emails to the publisher and a few other people, and I was able to get my hands on it and connect with him a bit on Instagram. Overall, my favorite part of doing the reviews would be connecting with the authors, and the readers as well.

How did what you learned at Pacific prepare you for this blog?

Both of my majors were writing intensive, so I would say my writing skills. I would also say that the critical thinking aspect that is promoted through all of Pacific’s majors was another skill that helped prepare me for this blog. I learned a lot of networking and professional development skills at Pacific.

Additionally, I am an alumna of the Pacific chapter of Tri Delta. I learned networking through them as well, which proved to be very helpful. Overall, having the confidence to navigate the route to creating the blog by having the confidence to reach out to the publishers, for example, was forged at Pacific.

Do you have advice for students who are feeling a loss in the sense of their life during this stay-at-home order and the transition to remote instruction?

I know that the students are doing this coursework, but I also encourage them to seek out books that they want to read, to help them find things that they enjoy during this difficult time. Reading is something that we can all easily access (i.e., we can still order books online, get e-books, audiobooks, etc). I think that reading could be a good outlet for escaping this current reality. Also, if there is a certain topic that they’ve ever wanted to study, now they have the opportunity to.

I would also advise students to be as gentle as they can with themselves. We are all trying to cope with the situation as best we can because in reality, no one knows how to cope with this fully.

For graduating seniors — especially for those that were looking forward to commencement ceremonies — I would advise them to find elements that they were looking forward to, and recreate them in whatever way they can.

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