Letter From a Christian Children’s Publisher on Turning Six in a Post-Pandemic World
Happy SIXTH Birthday Little Lamb Books! So excited to celebrate turning 6 with you! You have been so resilient and amazing, just like the Little Engine That Could. For six years, you’ve been releasing the next book, telling the next story, introducing the next new author. We celebrate your many accomplishments, and we give thanks to our Creator for the precious readers who are loving each title and growing in their faith.
We remember our launch event back in 2015. It was exciting to kick-off this adventure with friends and family. We were so happy, and let’s be realistic, a bit naive. We couldn’t know the challenges, hurts, or the hardships and burdens we would face along the way.
When we signed our first author, the amazing Shelly Roark, we threw everything we had into finding the right artist, the right designer, the right everything because we knew that this first book had to be just right. And it was. The Bubble Who Would Not POP! won numerous awards, was endorsed by Jim Daly at Focus on the Family, and has glowing reviews. We even received a photo of a pumpkin decorated like Billy Bubble by one sweet reader for a school project.
Over the past six years, we’ve published 12 more amazing picture books and chapter books, and we still have a devotional, a picture book, and a YA novel to release this year. It’s been a winding journey to get it just right a dozen more times, but all of our books are beautifully illustrated, wonderfully designed, and positively reviewed. Each and every one.
We joined two publishing associations and started a blog, including Your Monday Muse posts, in year one. We launched #FaithPitch, an online pitch party in year two. We added an online shop to our website by year three. We changed distributors in year four and hosted our first Scribbler’s Symposium conference in year five. Our books have won awards every year since 2016 and we’ve grown our social media reach from zero in 2015 to 806 FB Friends, 1,293 Twitter Followers, 808 Instagram Admirers, and 207 Pinterest Viewers, plus we added 10 YouTube subscribers and 66 LinkedIn followers. We’ve hosted seven interns (Hi Alyssa, Megan, Olivia, Soleil, Kayla, Katelyn, and Layne!). We have much to be grateful for.
Before the pandemic, we knew we faced hurdles as the number of Christian Indie Bookstores was low compared to that of general market stores. We also knew that finding our audience AND reaching them was going to be a challenge, so we relied on word of mouth, advertising, and social media. We’ve also been building our email list, bought ads on FB as wells sponsored pages in the local high school musical program and dance recitals. We’ve attended conferences and trade shows and build booths from scratch in Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Tennessee. We’ve guest blogged, guest spoke, and guest read for a variety of reviewers, libraries, schools, and programs. We’ve worked hard to master the bleed lines, the gutter, the copyright page, and author bios. We filed the documents, ordered the stickers, requested the control numbers and ISBNs. We asked the questions and researched the answers until our eyes were blurry and our optometrist said we needed a new prescription (seriously!).
But, COVID changed us.
Our authors are located all over the country – from Idaho to Florida to Texas. Our team has always been scattered and our office has always been out of our home. Our hours are longer and our days are shorter. We’ve struggled to find balance in a world that is on 24/7. We’ve seen sales slow and our profits diminish even as fees, taxes, returns, and prices escalate. We’ve watched big fellow publishers get bigger and small publishers say goodbye. We applied for all the help we were told was available. We hosted two Kickstarter campaigns. Nobody can get it right 100% of the time. We’ve made mistakes and learned from them. We’ve tried new things, and failed … and then tried again.
We can’t really know how the next year will go, but God does. We don’t know how He will provide, but we trust that He will. We don’t know who will join us on the next year of our journey, but we know God will bring us the right people at the right time. It’s hard to plan in the middle of a pandemic that just won’t go away, but we have no current plans to close our doors. We still have stories to tell. We still have readers to inspire. We still have a generation to leave a legacy of faith. God is good all the time, and we are leaning on Him to show us how to move forward. It’s a good birthday Little Lamb Books. We love you!
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15