Self-Publishing is for Quitters

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Leigh Ann Kopans, Map to Self Publishing, Writing, Young Adult | 18 comments

Self-Publishing is for Quitters

Self-publishing is for quitters.

That’s why I’m glad I’m doing it. I’m a big quitty quitter.

It’s true. Any time the going gets tough, all I want to do is curl up under the covers and stay there until everyone, myself included, forgets that I ever wanted anything to do with writing, that I ever wrote a single book, that I ever cared. At all.

It’s pathetic, too. The fact that my default reaction to writing disappointment – whether it’s query rejection, manuscript drawering, contest loss, submission passes, what have you – is to quit? Gross.

I’m lucky that my friends put up with me. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t follow through with quitting out of shame for saying I was going to quit? Is because my right-hand critique partner and bestie Jamie was so freaking patient with me. “Quit if you want to,” she said. “It’s okay to be upset.”

Translation: This is just a temper tantrum, we all know you’re not actually going to quit, but I’m nice enough to still be your friend when you’re done crying and throwing things.

But no one’s friends put up with that nonsense more than a few times. To be honest, I was getting sick of myself whining.

When I decided to self-publish, I cried. Jamie was there with me in person that night, as well as Andrea, Megan, and Erica. I found out that selling 20 copies the first month was actually considered a success, and I cried for all the expectations of reaching a lot of readers that were going down the drain.

Jamie rubbed my back and let me snot on her shirt and she and all my friends told me they would be there to encourage me as 20 copies grew to 100 the next month, and then 400, and she’d even be there to say “I told you so” when I made my money back, and maybe even came out with a profit.

So I decided to go for it. Through the tears, through the temper tantrum, because even though I’m a quitter, I couldn’t let that promise, that love, go to waste.

In January, after the last of the passes from big editors, I bit the bullet – hard. I contacted my amazing cover designer and reserved a spot for ONE on her schedule. The booking required a 50% down payment – a pretty big chunk of change. I paid it, and I was officially in. No way I could quit now.

The moments were there, after that – moments where people talked trash about self-publishing, moments where I second-guessed that there was anything read-able or lovable about my book, moments where I was so exhausted that I had no idea how I was going to do it all.

But as those moments accumulated, so, too, did the investments – both mine and those of my friends. I commissioned original art. I booked a copyeditor. Jamie started on line edits. I picked up an incredible assistant, and people joined my street team. My friends volunteered their blogs and their original skills and promo space in the backs of their books. I hired a publicist. I sent out ARCs, which a friend spent hours formatting for free.

As I write this post, almost one hundred people have spent significant time and energy helping my book become what it will be – either in development, promotion, or reading for review.

Do I ever think about quitting? Yep. Every single day.

I worry that I’m not up to par, that my book sucks, that this whole operation is the biggest con anyone’s bothered to pull off on any number of people. That voice that tells me there’s a reason ONE didn’t get picked up for traditional publication hisses in my ear, telling me that I’m a POSER.

Telling me to quit.

But you know what crowds it out? Every single dollar I’ve put in, of course, but most of all every single person who has given time and energy that they probably don’t really have to this project, for one reason, and one reason only – they believe it can succeed.

And if they do, well, I’m just going to have to do my best to believe it too.

About Leigh Ann Kopans

As a rabbi at The Ohio State University surrounded by college students, Leigh Ann found her niche writing young adult science fiction and romance. Her debut novel, ONE, about a girl with half a superpower and the boy who makes her fly, will be published on June 11, 2013.

18 Comments

  1. I am the exact same way when it comes to my writing. One little road bump and I feel like I fell off a cliff! And I haven’t even gotten to anything big yet (like, I haven’t even queries a manuscript ever)…so I know I will be the world’s most giant baby when that happens. I guess I will be coming to you (or stealing your friends) when those days arrive :)

    But on a side note, I totally believe in ONE and that was after only reading the first chapter sample you put up :)

    • Really? It’s so funny, I really thought I was the only one who got all dramatic. Yes, as you can see, good friends are CRUCIAL. One of the most important parts of publishing.

      You will be great. <3

  2. My teenagers asked me a few weeks ago: “Are all writers as emotional and melodramatic as you?” Of course they are! That’s what makes us good writers! I think I manage to “quit” at least once a week, if not more. But I don’t have the stamina or the business sense to self-publish, so I could never be as brave as you. I’m still working on being brave enough to send queries!

    BTW: I love ONE! And my daughter is reading the ARC right now – I had to fight her to get her to put it down for bedtime! :)

    • Aw, well I’m wishing you luck! FWIW, there are lots of ways to self-publish…this is just how I’M doing it. ;)

      Thank you so much for your compliment! Tell your daughter I said if she stashes a booklight under her pillow, she can read once you’ve gone to bed. Trick of the trade. ;)

  3. I’m so excited to read and review ONE, and I rarely take on books these days as I’m focusing on my own writing. But I saw something special that grabbed me in the first excerpt you had posted on your blog, and I’m sure that many other people will to. Best of luck in this next part of your writing journey :)

    • Ohhhh Zoe! Thank you so much honey! That means the world to me. I hope you enjoy it. <3

  4. I am so glad you didn’t quit! I finished ONE last week and I loved it! (It made me cry, which doesn’t happen that much with books). I honestly think about quitting all the time, because I haven’t even managed to land an agent yet, but your journey has really inspired me to keep going.

    • Carla. You’re KIDDING me. That made ME cry! LOL.

      Just remember that publishing is not the same for everyone. You’re doing a great job. <3

  5. I loved reading this post. I had a conversation just the other night about querying and rejection and all of the doubt that clouds your passions because of it. The truth is: books are subjective. The only thing that truly matters is if I believe in my story. AND I DO! Enough to put my own money behind it if necessary. So you’re an inspiration. Can’t wait to read your book.

    • YES! If you believe in your book, and others are there to support you, you are going to go far. Thank you so much! <3

  6. I just about cried reading THIS…
    Leigh Ann, it takes SO MUCH bravery to do what you do; not only throwing everything you have into getting this book out, but being open enough to ask for help and to share your struggles. Of all the wonderful things you are, your honesty blows my mind the most.

    • Girl, you’re right here with me! And I’m sure you’re doing alllll the same things. It is tough – thank goodness for good friends and a supportive community. <3

  7. You are so brave! This post made me cry! It hit close to home because I too sometimes want to quite. I hit a rough patch and I just want to walk away. The tough part is continue writing. But reading this gives me courage to move on and write. You are an inspiration and this blog was what I needed write now.

    • It’s so hard to keep writing with the constant rejection, I know. Mostly because the writing itself is such hard work! Thank you so much for reading, and ALL your support – you are wonderful. <3

  8. I suppose we wouldn’t be writers if we weren’t prone to high drama! :) I tend to take those knocks pretty hard but with each one, it gets easier to bounce back up, especially when I have so much support from my family and the amazing writing community. Count me among those invested in your success!

    • I guess that’s a good point – it does get easier each time! It’s good I’ve been through so much, hopefully now not-so-nice reviews will slide off my back.

      Thank you so much, Adrianne. Means the world to me. <3

  9. You are an inspiration Leigh Ann. I’m still querying and gathering rejections :), aware I can’t do this forever. I may one day be courageous enough to take the self-pub leap. Meanwhile, I’m cheering you on, looking forward to reading One. You are the opposite of a quitter!

  10. So I was just about to buy your book until I realised it wasn’t out yet!!!!!!! There’s nothing wrong with self publishing and it’s more acceptable than ever in today’s market. There’s plenty of plus points and posts like this make me want to buy your book, it sounds very interesting!

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