The Birth of a Rebel

by Stephanie Williams
Rebel Books LLP

It’s best to be someone who does things differently; someone who takes risks rather than sticking to the path well trodden. That’s what I do. I take risks and because of that Rebel Books LLP is a new independent publishing house that has just taken its first breath.

We are well and truly in the middle of a rather depressing recession. The downturn in financial security has forced publishers to re-assess the risk of taking on new clients. It is becoming harder and harder for unpublished writers to find a home for their work – I should know – I have faced the surge of rejection letters just like everyone else. With a newly completed young adult manuscript under my belt like other new writers I have been spending my disposable income on postage just to be rewarded by the standard printed rejection letter of numerous publishers.

Over the past year I became a Partner in a small independent publishing house that specialises in producing a variety of anthologies – a relatively unsuccessful partnership which led to my rapid withdrawal and the subsequent creation of Rebel Books LLP.

I hold down a full time job in a firm of Solicitors and divide my spare time between writing, family and my various other commitments. So, when myself and Samantha (the Co-Editor and Partner in Rebel), decided to start our own publishing house it was a risk! New businesses require initial financial investment, a lot of backbreaking effort and a trial and error period which can lead to the ripping out of your own hair.

The ethos behind Rebel is giving writers the feedback they deserve. There’s nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into something only to be told that a publisher just isn’t enthusiastic enough. How do you make them enthusiastic? Well that’s anyone’s guess because they sure as hell aren’t going to tell you!

Not with Rebel because this is a publishing house that will tell you. We vowed that no matter how many submissions we received everyone would have a fair chance. They’d all be read, evaluated and if rejected the writer would get a report explaining exactly why we were passing up on this particular opportunity.

A day in the life of a new publishing house is pretty simple…. wade through the new submissions, send out acknowledgements, make some notes and work on the general, monotonous administrative tasks that come hand in hand with running any business.

Like any new business the launch of the website sparked both positive and negative feedback. Everyone has their own idea of what should be on there and some people are critical just for the sake of it. My advice to any new business would be take the good with the bad but to keep the faith, if you make a decision then stick with it because you made it for a reason.

The world of publishing is a daunting place and not just for writers, for publishers as well. There are so many good writers out there offering up their work and it is a gamble knowing which ones to accept and which ones to decline. Remember that some publishers and agents rejected Watership Down and Harry Potter! You can’t kick yourself for every opportunity missed because at the end of the day a lot of it comes down to personal taste.

I have learned a lot from my new role. As a writer I worried that the rejection letters simply meant that I wasn’t good enough! Okay so sometimes that unfortunately has to be true, but isn’t it also the case that everyone has their own tastes and it’s hard to leave personal bias at the door. The more experienced you become the more likely you are to start seeing the commercial viability of something, but do you really want to become a publishing robot…. Do you really want to stop seeing that magical sparkle in something you really enjoyed reading even though it’s a bit of a gamble?

In some ways small publishing houses are really lucky. They keep the magic alive and they have the luxury of viewing every project as a possible jewel. Big publishing houses have large slush piles, tired readers and a lot of rejection letters to send out. Small publishing houses have a couple of Editors who tirelessly read each submission and find something to love in nearly every one… or at least that is what happens at Rebel. A rejection from Rebel is a double edged sword because I can guarantee you’ll get some pointers and hopefully a kick start of inspiration!

Working full time, writing and co-running a small publishing house is exhausting work but it’s worth it. One day of course I dream of my own private yacht, a holiday home in Florida and a castle in Scotland but dreams are what fuel us as writers. Reality is sitting down and working on something that could really make an impact. As a publisher and a writer what I want is to produce are books that will last the test of time, books that will be read time and time again because they are loved.

Everyone has it in them to be a writer. Everyone has dreams and an imagination… I would recommend you put it to good use because a rebel has been born and is looking for new blood!

For more information about Rebel Books LLP visit their website at or email them at

Photo credit: Scott Maxwell


Paul said...

It's great to see another publishing house launched. Here's wishing you and your authors every success.

gary davison said...

Here, here. Hope everything goes well for you. The best things often come in the face of adversity, and I take my hat off to you, setting away on a voyage like this in the middle of a recession.

I started my own business thirteen years ago, and no one thought I'd survive in construction. It's cut-throat to say the least, and at times dangerous to your health. I'm still here and still doing it. One thing that serves me well is a saying someone told me: make sure there's more coming in than going out. Believe me it works!!

All the best to you and everyone at Rebel, hope you hit the big time.