I've been an independent author for three years now, and an author in general for seven. I've had a good bit of time to learn, to fuck up, to reflect on the process of writing and selling books.
I'm not a "selling" writer; that is, it doesn't pay the bills. Yet I don't consider myself a hobbyist either. I consider myself... busy with other shit for years, having just enough presence of mind to keep writing and keep spitting out books once in a while.
I've never really been proud of my work. Other people say it's good, so I take their word for it. I've never sat down and read any of my own books for pleasure; just for editing and revisions, tidying up. But I just finished a novel that I have some pride in. Yeah, I still think it won't measure up... that's just life. But what got me really excited about this book is, of all things... the cover design.
That made me think about confidence. I got excited by a book I spent months writing because I found the right picture, the right fonts, and the right copy on the back. It looks like something I would pick up in a store.
And I guess the reverse is true too, then. If you already have confidence in your manuscript, or short story collection, then you'll go the extra mile on it. Once I was happy with the cover, I wanted it to be good inside too, so I picked up a book called The Complete Guide to Self Publoishing, by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier. And I was blown away when I realized how many steps I should be looking to make if I want my book to sell.
Now, I'll warn you; it's mostly for non-fiction, that guide, but I realized that I had been doing it at least half-right. I have a DBA for my publishing business, American Apocrypha. And, (and I hope nobody is making this mistake) I own all of my own ISBNs (the "Social Security Number" for a book.) I learned that you need one for each format (So, for example, paperback, hardcover, Kindle (mobi) and most other ebooks (epub) and the PDF - that's 5 ISBNs if you have all of those formats. Now, as of current, Myidentifiers.com (Bowker's) sells one for $125, and ten for $275 (and a hundred for a little over $500!) ... these are the little details that make a difference when you want to reach the largest audience.
Createspace, Smashwords, Lulu and others will give you a free ISBN, but then your publisher is them. Not you, or whatever publisher you want to run. And they don't do shit for you except manufacture and distribution. And if a bookstore is accepting local authors, they don't even look at authors published by Lulu.
So yeah, I'm rambling. But the confidence you have in your book is the gas than runs the car. You won't go through all the trouble (especially those who are also publishing paperbacks/hardcovers - and if you're doing Print On Demand, do it. Not everyone reads 'e'.) if you don't have any confidence in your book.
This is my first post on this blog because I need to promote "Welcome Back, Jack!" Really, it's long overdue.
...and if your writing is shit and you know it... be confident anyway. But make sure the cover is worth the selling price. :)