“Heartwarming, heartbreaking, funny, scary, sad, you know, relatable.” That’s how University of Miami senior Isabella Vaccaro described her upcoming debut novel “Lol, i love u,” which tackles the emotional rollercoaster of online dating. The print and e-book is set to release in April 2021.
Vaccaro said she was inspired to write her book in February when a Georgetown professor reached out to her on LinkedIn to tell her about his online book course. The program she took part in allowed her to pen her first book with expert guidance throughout the process. The program provides students with a New Degree Press publishing deal if they are able to complete the manuscript on time. Vaccaro said that with the pandemic giving her lots of free time, she decided to go for it and write “Lol, i love u.”
Vaccaro started brainstorming for “Lol, i love u” in June and has since been collecting personal stories through interviews. She’s talked to professionals within the field, such as dating coaches and app CEOs, and researched the depths of the internet for the most useful and interesting information.
College hookup culture initially sparked Vaccaro’s incline to study this underrepresented topic. After unearthing many accurately written sources, she strived to put her own spin on it. Vaccaro noticed that the majority of people were meeting each other online, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The concept of online dating still posed a lot of mystery to her, and so she was eager to dive right into it.
“I had all these different stories that were kind of pointing me toward … ‘Maybe online dating isn’t so bad, maybe we just don’t know how to use it,’” Vaccaro remarked. “Maybe there’s more of a science because no one really teaches you, ‘Hey, this is how you’re supposed to respond to an Instagram DM.’”
“Lol, i love u” is broken down into three parts — which Vaccaro describes on indiegogo.com where you can preorder her work. The first section of the book stems from a social experiment she completed using a dating app called Hinge and jumps into dating from a historical perspective. Part two, the main course, shares dating app stories from college students nationwide and features extensive research that truly defines how online dating works. Part three concludes with Vaccaro looking back on her experience and using her own advice. “For the most part, the book is very light and laughable, and then there’s this research I’ve done,” she explained.
The publication is embedded with real anecdotes, and all storytellers remain anonymous. Vaccaro blends these tales with facts to provide a complete picture for readers. She said her favorite part about writing “Lol, i love u” was enjoying these fascinating stories about dating and connecting with interviewees from all over.
“I don’t think I would have heard a lot of these stories from my friends had I not been specifically interviewing them for this book,” Vaccaro noted. “When you interview someone, you’re connecting with them too, and it’s funny because I’m writing a book about online connections and simultaneously doing that by interviewing all these people.”
Vaccaro added that while most of the book is lighthearted, she did include a chapter on sexual assault. Someone had come to her with a story involving a dating app connection resulting in rape. She described this as the saddest part of her book but an important subject to discuss.
The book’s purpose, according to Vaccaro, is to show that while online dating often has a negative reputation, it doesn’t deserve to. “It definitely has a lot of, you know, twists and turns and nuances that people should be aware of, and that’s why I wrote the book,” she said. “In the end, I think it can be a really helpful tool to meet people, especially now in the state of the world.”
Vaccaro has had a longtime passion for writing and aspired to write a book from a young age. Along with journalism, she did theatre growing up and at UM. Vaccaro said that theatre brought about new experiences working with lively and interesting people and that this helped her add humor and life into her words.
For UM students looking to accomplish similar goals, Vaccaro recommends getting involved with organizations like Distraction, UMTV and The Miami Hurricane. For people considering authoring and publishing their own books, she recommends joining the program she’s part of through the Creator Institute.
Vaccaro served as the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of Distraction and claimed there are many similarities between that job and writing her book. She described them both as good, constant responsibilities that she was equally excited to pursue. A big difference as an author, however, was not having a team to consistently help her like she did at Distraction. Vaccaro has also freelanced for media outlets like the Miami Herald, Whiskey Advocate Magazine and Indulge Magazine. In the future, she would like to pursue a job in journalism.
Vaccaro has already wrapped up her draft manuscript (about twelve chapters), and she recently received her first round of edits. “For the next couple months, I’ll be going through all those revisions and actually adding a good 25% more to the text,” she said. “I’m also currently running a special presale campaign to fund publishing.” The young author-in-the-making appears to have a bright and busy future ahead.
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