Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rachel Pellegrino of Little Lamb Books | Writer Wednesday

A little bit about Rachel...

Rachel LaMonica Pellegrino is the founder and publisher of Little Lamb Books, an independent, boutique publisher of faith-based fiction books for elementary, middle grade, and young adult readers.

Rachel has worn many hats including the ones for journalist, radio promotions assistant, a special events coordinator, and teacher. She launched Little Lamb Books, a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), to give readers ages 5 to 18 a chance to read creative stories, meet intriguing characters, and wander through interesting worlds while developing, learning about, and growing their faith.

Rachel is an Italian wife and mom (which means she talks with her hands most of the time), and a tea drinker, an avid reader, a professional photographer, and a fangirl of all things Disney. She also writes on her personal blog

Connect with Rachel...


Get to know Rachel and Little Lamb Books...

You and Books
I have been a passionate reader from the age of four. My mom took me to the library every week, and I’d come home with piles of books that I’d race through in just a few short days. Pippi Longstocking, Jo March, Anne of Green Gables, and Nancy Drew were some of my favorite characters as I grew up.

Then, I became a teacher, and I loved teaching books like Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor to The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

Now, as a mom to a little one, I love reading bedtime stories with colorful illustrations and fun characters, like The World Champion of Staying Awake, A Bear Called Paddington, or the Fancy Nancy Series.

When I decided to become a publisher and launch Little Lamb Books, I felt like I was finally able to mesh my passion with my purpose!

Your Company

Who is Little Lamb Books?
Little Lamb Books is a small, independent publishing company based in Texas that is focusing on traditionally producing faith-based fiction for elementary, middle grade and young adult readers. Our main goal is to encourage young readers in their faith, inspire their love of reading, and delight their imagination through stories that incorporate faith and values, character education, biblical parables, and lifestyle principles within interesting plots, strong characters, and colorful settings.

Why did you start Little Lamb Books?
As a teacher of 15 years, I know how important reading is for kids. And, of course, I love to read! I also recognized after having my own child that while there was an abundance of amazing books being written and placed in bookstores, I wasn’t finding the same inspiring characters and colorful creativity in books with a biblical worldview. I wanted to not only create a legacy for my daughter, but also to enrich and expand the character, setting, and story choices of children in homes where faith is the core value, and I think there are more families that desire this as well.

Are you accepting new manuscripts, and if so what genres are you focusing on?
Yes, we are accepting submissions for elementary, middle grade and young adult readers, or ages 5 to 18. We are accepting manuscripts in a variety of genres, including Contemporary Christian/Inspirational, Comedy/Humorous, Mystery & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Simply Sweet Romance, and Historical Fiction.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while building this company?
There were quite a few; some that helped with choosing our name, some which helped define our mission. Mostly, they were confirmation passages that really supported the purpose of creating this company. Here are three of them:
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
“Start children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14b
Publishing and Writing

How long does it take to publish a children’s picture book?
Everyone is always amazed at this, but it honestly at minimum takes a good year. I know when I started a few years ago, I too thought that with all the advances in technology, a book should be able to be edited, printed and distributed quickly, but if you want to work with a traditional publisher, twelve months after signing a contract is a good time table to prep your cover art and illustrations, edit your content, build in a marketing plan, gather reviews, build momentum, and so much more.

How do you pick a manuscript to publish?
I know this is different from pub house to house or agent to editor, but I mostly look at a few writing things, like story plotting and character development, content or chapter flow, but I also look at more business oriented items, such as marketability, genre data, and author platform. Most of the time, I know after reading the cover letter and the first one to two pages whether or not a manuscript will work for us. Sometimes, it’s a physical reaction like the hairs on the back of my neck stand up or I’ll get actual goose bumps on my arms. That’s what happened with our first picture book.

How hard is it to send a rejection letter to an author?
Believe it or not, it’s quite difficult. A rejection letter isn’t generally something that a publisher, editor, or agent enjoys. I always think about how I would feel receiving the letter, and I’m a sensitive soul, so I know when I send it, it’s going to hurt someone. That’s very hard. We can’t reply to every submission because there’s just too many, but when we do, I try to be the one who sends the letters, and I struggle over what to say, how to encourage.

What are things you would advise or encourage writers to work on?
I started a list last year after getting grumpy over some items we were seeing over and over again in submissions. I felt like I was a teacher again, and needed to make a cheat sheet for students:
  • Spell Check. 
  • Follow the submission guidelines exactly as they are described. 
  • Build your platform - which doesn’t mean you have to be online all the time. 
  • Work on your pitches for conferences, conventions, and pitch parties. 
  • Don’t send nasty letters if you receive a rejection or negotiations fall through - it doesn’t reflect well on you.

What are you currently watching?
Well, I’ve been binge watching The Crown on Netflix. I love all things royal, and the holidays were so busy, so I’m just now wrapping up season one. I’m not sure I can wait for season two!

What’s one thing you are looking forward to in the New Year?
I’m really excited about the release of our first children’s picture book by our author Shelly Roark. It releases at the end of summer, and it’s a precious story about a small bubble that faces some mighty challenges to complete an important mission and fulfill his purpose. It’s beautifully illustrated and has a simple, but important message for children and parents alike.

What are you currently reading?
Aside from our most recent submissions, my first book for 2017 was Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything in Between)! If I’m going to read non-fiction, I enjoy a good, fast-paced biography, which this is. It was a Christmas gift because I’m a big Gilmore Girls fan!

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