This from a rather discouraged author:
Going from book shop to book shop offering to put free books on their shelves, if they’d replace the ones actually sold, is quite humiliating, and not at all rewarding. The net is also rather hit and miss since you need to drive traffic to the site somehow. My own web site disappeared into cyberspace, along with a number of discounted products which obviously did nothing to sell the book (or the products erk).
I have a friend whose publishers organise his marketing, his appearances at talks, book signings and, distribution of his books actually onto the shelves in bookshops. The most books he has ever sold, however, is still only 7000!! Still not enough to give up your day job. To the best of my knowledge my book sold two copies – and my wife bought those for encouragement.
Bottom line is that writers should write and marketers should market. Who organises the marketers is a moot point but I believe it should be the publishers. I believe they have a responsibility to the writer to tell them it’s crap if it’s crap. There are lots of good story tellers who can’t write but who do very well at dinner parties, and there are lots of good writers who can’t imagine good stories, and they bore people to death (if eloquently). Writing copy for marketing requires neither imagination nor writing skills. It’s a world of its own.