Junior Lives Life Cover to Cover


Jessica Cozzi is a creative writing major who knows her future lies in books. (Jessica Cozzi)

Students constantly complain that they do not have time to read for pleasure because of their classes. For Jessica Cozzi, FCRH ’20, this problem seems easy to work around. Between her commitments, she finds the time to read and write for pleasure and personal gain. She can even read two to three books a week! She plans to go into publicity and marketing with a publishing house, all while writing novels of her own. With a book, a blog and a pen, Cozzi gives the term “bookworm” a whole new meaning.

This creative writing major has always known that her future lies in books, but she never realized her dream until she started sharing her love for literature online. At 14, she and two friends started their own book blog, The Book Bratz, through which they review young adult (YA) novels. They never expected it to become what it has; they just reached 5.5 thousand followers on Twitter, and their site has had a total of 400 thousand views since they started. On a typical day, Cozzi says the blog gets somewhere from one to two thousand unique views.

When asked how it got to be so popular, Cozzi said that engagement with other readers, who form a huge community on Twitter, has been a significant help. The girls are also able to host book giveaways because publishers and authors reach out to them with free books to review. Cozzi has even worked with John Green, her “idol,” more than once.

Despite the blog’s connections to well-known authors, agents and publishers, the goal for 2019 is to highlight and promote authors making their debuts. “We’re helping give them publicity and doing interviews and doing giveaways with them to get the word out since they don’t have the marketing value that significant, established authors already have,” Cozzi said. This promotion of new writers is not far from the work Cozzi has done at Fordham.

She finds the intersection of her book interests and her student life in the Ampersand. She has been involved with the literary magazine since she came to Fordham and is now their secretary. The Ampersand accepts many new writers into every one of its magazines. Leading up to each submission deadline, the club hosts workshops on Wednesdays.

Cozzi loves these workshops as club members positively critique and help each other develop their skills while preparing to submit their own pieces. Cozzi’s favorite aspect of the magazine is the community of writers. “Especially when you’re in school all the time, you don’t really have time to sit down and focus on your own poetry and writing,” Cozzi said. “A lot of people read the same kind of books I read, which was not very common. I don’t know a lot of college students who read young adult because they see it as ‘younger’… so it was nice to find that kind of environment where people read and wrote the same way I did. It felt very comfortable.”

The Ampersand community includes not only fellow English and creative writing majors, but also students from all around Rose Hill, even those in Gabelli. Cozzi appreciates that the Ampersand is a space for every student to get creative. She recommends that anyone come to their Wednesday meetings regardless of whether they have been in the club or if the submission deadline has already passed.

Members are always working on writing and putting together the publication. The magazine is, perhaps, the most involved in publishing that Cozzi can be at Fordham. She has yet to seek Career Services’ help during her time here — partially because of her blog connections and partially because of Fordham’s lack of connections to publishing houses. While she acknowledged that the university recently has added publishing events with companies such as Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group, she believes that there is little representation at career fairs.

“I think that in the three years that I’ve been here, Random House has only been here once,” Cozzi said. “They don’t even have small publishers.”

A benefit of attending a New York City college or university is the amount of companies headquartered here. Cozzi voiced her frustration with the lack of opportunities that Fordham offers to its English majors and publishing career-seekers. “We live in New York, the publishing capital of the world; there’s no excuse for that,” she said.

Cozzi’s parting advice to writers and those with similar goals to hers is to “engage yourself in the community that you want to be a part of. … There are hundreds of agents in publishing houses that you could follow and interact with. Just make sure they know your name. Keep going out there, because it does work for you in the long run.”

The Ampersand is accepting submissions sent to [email protected] up until Friday, Feb. 15. Prose, poetry, photography and artwork are accepted. Cozzi’s book reviews can be found at thebookbratz.blogspot.com.