Kassia Krozser of Booksquare and Dan Green of The Reading Experience are engaged in a provocative dispute about the need for authors to market their own books. See Kassia's "Not a Formula for Success," Dan's "Living on Earth," and Kassia's riposte, "Life on Venus: Authors Do Market."
I know dozens of writers, both published and unpublished. What surprises them most when their first books are published is learning they'll be responsible for most--or all--of the promotion and marketing.
As aspiring ("pre-published") writers, we all imagined we'd merely need to complete the manuscript. Once we signed that book contract, maybe we'd have to make a few changes here and there based on the editorial letter. After that, however, we would move on to our next manuscript. The publisher would take care of actually selling the book to retail outlets and readers.
T''ain't so. The Awful Truth is that publishers' promotional and marketing resources are allocated to the authors who bring in the most money...i.e., those who are already big sellers. You know, your Stephen Kings, your James Pattersons, your Mary Higgins Clarks.
The average writer is a peon--very low on the list for services from the publisher.
Thus it is that the typical novelist--probably an introvert, almost certainly someone who hates the idea of "selling" anything to anybody--has to get out and beat the streets (and Internet pathways) to promote and market his/her book.
Sigh. Yet another note of harsh reality intruding into our fantasy worlds.