Last December at my annual open house, one of my clients was talking about his poor book sales. He was very disappointed that nothing much had happened. He asked me how my memoir was doing and I told him I was doing well. He looked frustrated and perplexed, and I asked him a few basic questions about how he was marketing his book.
You probably know what's coming. He wasn't marketing his book. After a very small initial flurry of activity, he'd stopped doing anything. He had no plan, no list of tasks. Even the most obvious, getting his book on Kindle, hadn't happened. He'd thought about it but never taken action.
Fast forward to yesterday and lunch with two friends. We were all in a marketing group for freelancers together, a wonderfully facilitated and structured program to help us get more clients and more income. After I self-published my memoir, Donna dusted off a book project very dear to her heart and finished it and self-published it. We were both finalists for the Oregon Book Award in successive years. Yet after that first flurry of activity, she too had stopped marketing her book. She talked of some of her ideas but she hadn't found time to take action on them.
You can certainly self-publish a book and not market it. You may only want the sense of completion that publishing brings or to give your book as a gift to friends and family. Some people never want their stories or efforts to be public, just to be published. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, as a creative, I applaud it. Many of us do creative things--write, paint, quilt, garden--for our own pleasure and that of those close to us.
But if you want your work to get out into the world, and if you want a chance at recognition or money, you have to do the marketing.