Many more emails come in about marketing books than any other subject. Of course, that is understandable. Most people write what they know. But, not all authors are good at understanding the marketing process.
A book, like any other product, must be sold. So many people expect a great book to sell itself. Question: How will anyone know how great it is if someone doesn't tell them? And this is one of the great issues with marketing. If you expect any product to sell itself, then you won't work as hard or give it the attention it deserves, and probably will give up too soon.
The most important thing that any author can understand is that the marketing process begins while you are writing the book. I know it's hard enough to write a good book without thinking about marketing, but you need to keep your eyes open for something you can add to your story that makes it valuable, something that could be put on a sell sheet, something that could be marketed to particular companies or agencies. This is why a great book has to be planned and not just written.
Authors also need to define their own target market. That is not the job of the publisher. In fact, this information should be neatly included in your query. If you can't define a target market in one sentence, then it's likely you need to do more research. For instance, if I wrote a book on financial independence for the stay-at-home mom, my target market would be, of course, stay at home moms. Let's take a harder one. Say I wrote a book about understanding the economy today. Of course, most people should probably read the book. All authors think that, but that does not qualify as a target market. Everyone does not qualify as a target market. I have to make a decision of who I'm going to target the book to. There are many choices, and all of them are good, but I should only have one on my query. I should only have one target market at the top of my marketing plan. That's very important. Some call it primary and secondary targeting!
The last thing we'll point out today: it is unreasonable to think that marketing will always yield overnight results. Some books do poorly out the gate. I'm reminded of the scripture that says 'not the strong or the swift, but those that endure until the end'. But, just because a book is no longer front list does not mean the book has no more hope. Sometimes, it is the backlist titles that supply an author the extra boost of credibility and quality.
Marketing is an ongoing process. It should last for the life of your book. If an author does not want to or know how to market, they start this process at a disadvantage in a business where competition is more than 200,000 strong each year.