Anybody want a llama? Specifically, a llama book?
Back on February 23, Hartline agent Terry Burns wrote a great blog article, “I'm Looking for a Llama.” A good manuscript is not good enough, Terry wrote. “Agents and editors are all looking for exceptional books, books that stand out from the crowd and are unique and compelling”—much as a llama stands out in a pasture full of sheep. Sheep look much the same and follow the crowd. Llamas stand tall and distinctive, presenting a unique story in a compelling way.
I have a llama, I thought as I read Terry's observations. Not only is this client's story compelling, it's far from the same old same-old. So I had great hopes as I sent out the proposal.
But I'm starting to discover the trouble with llamas.
After three earlier, generic rejections, I got this email Friday, from a fiction editor at a major house. (A few details have been changed to preserve anonymity.)
Thank you for the opportunity to review [Author’s] manuscript. Unfortunately, it is not a good fit for our program at this time. I don’t see a huge market for Christian historical fiction from the days of the [Llamas]. Best wishes on finding the right publisher for this project.
Maybe contemporary llamas would be okay. Romantic llamas. Or llamas in bonnets. Or teen vampire llamas.
Maybe not. I still like this story about historical llamas. And I trust the right publisher will too—and then scads of readers.
If you're looking to catch the start of the next trend, here's an insider tip: historical llamas.