Welcome Wednesday – A Legacy of Faith with Rachel Pellegrino and Little Lamb Books

Publisher: Little Lamb Books

Guest: Rachel Pellegrino

Genre: Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Best Seller: The Bubble Who Would Not POP! Written by Shelly Roark, Illustrated by Simone Krüger.

New Releases: The Christmas Color by author-illustrator Tori Higa

The Christmas Color: From Santa’s red clothes to Rudolph’s shiny red nose, from the berries we pick to sweet peppermint sticks, the color of Christmas is red!

A Legacy of Faith

Interview by Jenny Fulton

Rachel Pellegrino is the owner and founder of Little Lamb Books, an award-winning children’s books publisher. This faith-based company focuses on books for children ages 4-18.

“This means we produce picture books, chapter books, and young adult novels that fall into a variety of genres, including humor, contemporary, fantasy, and more,” Rachel said.

I asked Rachel if she had a favorite genre, but like many book enthusiasts, she couldn’t pick just one.

“I really do like all the genres we publish, and we cover everything from realistic fiction to fantasy to concept books. I like that our current catalog has quite a bit of character-driven and entertaining stories that capture the readers’ attention.”

How It Began

“What inspired you to establish Little Lamb Books?” I asked.

“After teaching for 15 years and leaving the classroom to start a family, I launched Little Lamb Books in 2015 to leave a legacy for my daughter. I wanted books that would encourage her faith and bring her closer to the Lord, and I struggled to find those books on bookshelves anywhere. I couldn’t have predicted all this company would accomplish in our first four years. Once the idea of Little Lamb Books was planted in my spirit, it just would not let go.”

Little Lamb Books has won Benjamin Franklin Awards, Illumination Awards, Realm Maker Awards, Moonbeam Awards, Best Indie Book Awards (BIBA) and Golden Scroll Awards. They’ve have also had finalists in the SELAH Awards and Indie Book Awards.

“Has operating Little Lamb Books changed or developed your understanding of the industry?”

“Absolutely! There are so many details and so much decision-making that goes into the publication of a book. Everything I’ve learned from five years ago to now is in layers and I’m still learning new things every day because the publishing industry is constantly changing and new opportunities are presenting themselves, so we have to be constantly adapting and changing too.”

Rachel’s enthusiasm for what she does poured out of her throughout this interview, especially with the next question.

“What do you enjoy most about publishing?”

“I love hearing from parents that their child loved our book so much they couldn’t put it down and wanted to read it again. I love hearing about how our stories created an opening for parents to have important discussions with their kids about things like patience, prayer, or God’s love. It also blesses me to be a part of seeing authors have their personal dream of being published come to life. The fact that we publish books by amazing writers who are making an impact for the Lord is fulfilling in so many ways. I love what I do!”

#FaithPitch

As another way to support new authors on their journey, Rachel and Little Lamb Books created #Faithpitch.

“#FaithPitch is a one-day Twitter pitch party we launched in 2016. We host it three times a year in February, June, and November. Our goal is to connect writers of Christian fiction and non-fiction with industry professionals by giving them the opportunity to pitch their completed, edited, and ready to submit manuscripts. We are growing every year and our participants are so supportive of one another. I love hearing the wonderful success stories that are being shared.”

As a writer who has participated in this event, I can affirm the supportive nature of it. Although I haven’t yet been picked up by an industry professional, I did find a good critique group.

Submissions

Although they’ve found some authors through the Twitter event, Little Lamb Books also finds them through their regular submission process. Due to the number of queries they’ve been receiving, they recently adjusted their submission policy to only accept solicited and unsolicited manuscripts during the months of February, June, and November.

As a querying author, I was especially interested to know the answers to these next questions.

“What are some of the first things you look for in a book when you’re considering whether or not to accept it for publication?”

“I look for a really strong hook that captures my attention and leaves me wanting more. I want books that make me feel something, tug at my heart strings, or make me smile by the time I’m done reading them. Stories that come across as a lecture or are lessons that have been repetitively written about in the same ways are unfortunately not going to make it past the slush pile.”

“What are some of the key points or themes you like to see woven throughout the books you accept?”

“As a company, we want to see positive, uplifting, and encouraging themes. We are told often that children are resilient and can handle this or that topic, and I agree that kids can learn quite a number of life lessons through the content they read, but I want our books to bring joy, to encourage, and to leave young readers wanting more. I think stories about friendship, acts of kindness, courage, determination are strong themes.”

“Are there any types of books you are hoping to acquire in the next couple of years?”

Rachel’s Wishlist: “I have been on the look-out for a really well-written middle grade story that has a realistic adventure or mystery since I started the company, and I haven’t found one yet. We are currently searching for strong holiday (not Christmas) titles and non-fiction gift books for elementary school readers. A sweet contemporary young adult title is on my wish list as well. But, overall, I’m looking for strong characters and themes, well-written manuscripts, diverse points of view, and stories that readers will want to read again and again.”

“What is the best tip you can give to an author who is seeking publication with Little Lamb Books?”

“Look at what we are publishing AND read our books. Be sure to review our submission guidelines – we do edit them every so often. Make sure you are meeting the general criteria we are requesting. Write a compelling cover letter that includes the necessary information, like word count, genre, age group, synopsis, and more in a way that makes us want to keep reading. That cover letter is our introduction to an author and it needs to really be strong.”

Upcoming and Noteworthy Reads

Similar in difficulty to the favorite genre question was the favorite book question. While Rachel wasn’t able to name just one of their books that impacted her, she did give me the name of a book that helped their company move forward in its beginning stages: their debut picture book, The Bubble Who Would Not POP! by Shelly Roark.

“It has beautiful illustrations by Simone Krüger,” Rachel raved. “It’s won a half-dozen awards. It has sold the most copies out of all our titles, and to have the endorsement of Jim Daly from Focus on the Family was important for the author, the book, and us as a new publisher.”

When people pick up a book published by Little Lamb Books, Rachel hopes they will truly feel God’s love leaping off the page, whether it’s a picture book or a novel. She also wants people to simply enjoy reading their books – to enjoy the time they get to spend with the characters, the setting, the illustrations … all of it.

Rachel is also super excited for their brand-new Christmas book called The Christmas Color arriving this October. Follow Little Lamb Books on Facebook and Instagram and keep your eyes peeled for the cover reveal coming later this month in August.

Meet Tori Higa, the debut author-illustrator of The Christmas Color

Book Blurb for The Christmas Color (October 2020)

From Santa’s red clothes to Rudolph’s shiny red nose, from the berries we pick to sweet peppermint sticks, the color of Christmas is red!

But why do so many of our favorite traditions come together in this particular hue? Debut author-illustrator Tori Higa has an insightful answer that will warm your heart and remind readers young and old of the true reason for the season. The Christmas Color is available beginning October 20, 2020.

*Keep your eyes peeled for The Christmas Color cover reveal coming in August!

Purchase the Books

Connect with Little Lamb Books

Connect with Rachel

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