Creating a Publishing company w/ Tiffany C. Lewis

First off: Tell me about yourself I am a mommy, a teacher, and an entrepreneur from Oakland California. I've been writing since middle school when I wrote a full-length stageplay with some school friends. I continued writing fiction and non-fiction in high school and became editor-in-chief of our school newspaper in tenth grade. I moved away from writing when it was time for college, and initially, I studied Early Childhood Education, receiving two Associates degrees. I continued my education, obtaining a Bachelors in Business Management, and a Masters degree in Communication. All these degrees, I plan to parlay into my writing career! I returned to writing during the time I was in school and was honored to have my work published in literary magazines starting in 2011. From then to 2014, my work was published almost a dozen times in literary magazines and collections. I released my first novella in 2014 with the help of my amazing mentor and publisher.

Wow! That’s awesome. What do you think first inspired you to pick up the pen, and keep picking it up over the years?

Just my wild imagination! I used to daydream, and still do, constantly. Now, as an adult it is when I am driving, but as a youngster, I daydreamed before sleep, in class, and whenever I was bored. My imagination is so vivid that I have thought up the whole manuscripts in my mind. This is part of the reason I can outline a whole story without stunting my creativity. Additionally, writing has always been a very fun outlet for me creatively. My father is an amazing artist, but I can't paint or draw, as much as I'd like too. I got my creativity from him, in the form of writing. When I write I always feel really good. Even in editing. lol.

That’s great. I think all writers day dream a ton. I know I do. Tell me more about your writing. What genres do you write in and what is your novella about?

My main genre is Crime Fiction, but my very good friend Zach Sigurdson encouraged me to read and study genres outside of my own so I can learn from and maybe even write those genres in the future. Since then, I have written short stories in multiple genres including Sci-Fi, and Horror, which I'm planning to release next year, I have an Erotic novella completed and I'm working on a co-author project for a Fantasy manuscript. I love splicing genres. Crime is present wherever humans exist, so it's easy to work a genre with crime elements. My novella is called Inside Out, book 1 in the series, and it is about my main character Michael Taylor. He is a detective out of Oakland PD and the story is based around a series of murders. There is a splash of romance with the characters, a bit of gore with our killer, and some intensity as Michael and his loved ones are put into peril.

That sounds awesome. When we talked previously, you had mentioned that you were working on beginning your own publishing company. Can you tell me more about that? We started Rebellion Lit in March and it has been such a fun experience! Originally the idea was just an imprint for my self-publishing journey, but me being me, it has grown exponentially in a short time. We offer merchandise, I sell my books on our website, but additionally, we are constantly thinking up ways to help authors. It started with our interview series which is very popular and I will soon be adding Zoom interviews to the collection. We are not at the point where we are ready to publish other authors' solo projects, but we are planning a themed anthology to release next year which will feature themed works from authors and poets. We are paying for the work, so I'm really excited to help boost some authors careers and build their resumes. The idea is that we really want to meet people who Rebel against the conventions of writing in their own way. I think each author has something they do that is out of the norm in writing, they may not see it, but it's there! Hiding in their art. I love it! How did you get started with the project and what have you done to grow it? In terms of marketing and getting it out there.

My partner, Brandon Lambert is the brainchild behind the name and concept of the company. He really showed me that I am a Rebel, my characters are Rebels and once I saw that, everything came together. He gave me the Rebellion name which is kind of his life mantra and I think it sounds so good with my Lit (or literature). We brainstormed for over a year on how we want things to look and feel around the company and our website and interactions have really embodied that. Growth with any business (including authoring) is slow but we are very happy with how things are looking! We use free social media as well as ad placement to bring eyes to what we are offering, from books to interviews. We are planning to use tons of visuals to keep everyone's eyes happy. lol, but also, we are ONLY releasing quality work, which is why we haven't jumped into publishing others yet and are pacing ourselves with starting our Anthology. The work speaks for the publisher, just like it speaks for the author, so making sure the stories are good is just as important as social media or advertising.

That’s great. You said you brainstormed about how you wanted the company to feel. How would you describe that feel? I would describe it as open, non-judging, kind, supportive, and strong. We are open to all kinds of ideas, ways of writing, communication, and all kinds of people! We don't judge authors' personal styles or compare them to others in a harsh way (although we are a stickler for proper grammar, lol). We want authors to succeed so we are friendly, kind, and loving with all of the authors we encounter. We are supportive, 100% to the authors and writers we interact with because writing a manuscript can be crazy hard and we want them to know we have their back, even if we aren't their publisher. Lastly, we wanted a feeling of strength. We're strong in our convictions, we have strong feelings about our goals and we have strong feelings about the world of writing. We strongly believe all writers are authors and all authors deserve to have an audience.

I love all of that and you put it so elegantly. These are the type of things I try to promote in this blog as well. What are your goals with this company, or where do you see it going in the future? Our major goal is to bring attention to authors. Period. lol. Just working with authors and giving them opportunities to be seen is a big deal for us. In that same vein, when we do take on our first authors for full publication, the goal is to help them make a profit. I understand that is not the goal for some authors, they just want their work to be seen and enjoyed, but I do believe that any author who seeks publication outside of their own self-publishing efforts, would like to see a return on their investment. Their time is important to us. The labor they put into their work should be paid for, in our opinion, which is why every author whose work we publish, will be paid, even for short works. Our more long term goal is to continue to grow branches of the company that we are working on including a Comic division and screenwriting under different Rebellion brand names. That’s so cool! Whenever you do open for publication, do you think you will focus on a particular genre or be open? We will be WIDE open. We want poets, and authors. Even in the poetry category we are willing to take haiku, long and short form, and any kind of poetry. For genres, the sky is the limit but we really love genre splicing, because it's rebellious! The biggest thing for us is that the manuscript is well done. As I said before, we want to produce high-quality work and that can come in any genre or style.

I'm so excited to see your company as it grows. As for the Anthology, can you tell us anything more about it? Themes, or etc. We're planning one per year with submissions in December and aiming for publication every May starting in 2021. I want to keep the first theme a secret because I think it's a really cool, unexpected theme but authors can get the info early by subscribing to our website! I will be sending info out about submissions in November to anyone subscribed and submissions will open to the public in December. At that time, the public will know the theme and have until mid-January to submit. The themes will be very wide with lots of wiggle room to make it the author's own, and I think themes will lend to all types of poetry and writing styles!

I look forward to seeing more. I might have to submit myself. What has been the biggest challenge in starting and running this company for you? Work-life balance, for starters. I actually closed my Etsy shop in order to give more energy to my writing and this company. The Etsy shop was doing well, but I'm much more passionate about my writing and I know where I really want to put my attention now. In addition to that change, I started working full time for our local school district and of course, that takes away from anything I'm doing in my personal life. I am the editor-in-chief at Rebellion so all decisions go through me, I interact with tons of authors on a daily basis, I create content, I manage one employee - our social media manager who I couldn't live without. She barely needs managing, honestly. lol. Then there is my writing which, let's face it, I'm the only "contracted" author in our company right now. lol. This means I'm writing for me and the growth of the company. Then there is mommyhood, fitness, fun and travel that I want/need to make sure I fit in. Luckily, I have a partner who absolutely supports our household and the business as much as possible. All and all, one thing I learned about work-life balance is that you have to enjoy both - work and personal life. I have been very fortunate to absolutely love our company, my 9-5 job, and my life!

That sounds so awesome. What has been your favorite part about this journey? Meeting and learning from authors! Every time I interview someone or interact with them, I always get some gem of knowledge that I can take into my own work or life. I am an eternal learner, so I am always trying to leech information from people and the things around me. Sometimes when I interview authors, I ask them the same question as another author. The variety in the answers always gives me new looks at perspectives, helps me evaluate my own opinions and appreciation for other perspectives. Some answers about the writing industry and authoring are so profound that I am awestruck at what our fellow authors have to say! It's been a blast!

That sounds wonderful. I only have two more questions for you. First, what is a random fact about you? The sillier the better.

I can't think of a single thing that is absurdly silly about me, but I do love giraffes! I have a collection of over 20 giraffes from stuffed to porcelain and even wall art. A lot of them are packed away because we downgraded our living space recently but they are always on my mind! lol. My faves are three giraffe pens in three colors that I splurged to buy from the Oakland Zoo.

Awesome! Giraffes are great. Last question: if you only had one piece of advice to give fellow writers, what would it be? Keep moving forward and finish your manuscript! Everyone takes a varying degree of time to complete a work but just push through it. There is a quote by an author out there, I'm not exact on who, but it basically says that if you don't finish a manuscript, it can never be published. By you or anyone else! This is an absolute fact. Some authors have no support of their writing from family and friends and I just want to tell them that, there is an audience out there for your work, and unfortunately, it may not be with their family and friends, but unless you finish that first draft, as crappy as it may be, no one will ever get the chance to appreciate the work. "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

I love that. Thank you so much for your time.


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