If you're one of these people, then I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of this book by John B. Thompson: Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century. He busts that myth through a series of interviews with the trade publishers themselves. Here's just one quote from that book to whet your appetite:
As soon as a book shows signs that its going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the authors tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. ... the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. ... But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly - 'In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,' ... So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? ... I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly its even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that's it.So, that's it. That's the most time a trade publisher will spend on selling your book for you: six weeks. After that, it's up to you to sell your own book ... or let it die with all the other ignored and forgotten back list titles.
Are there any Canadians on this forum? If you're doubting this, then you need go no further than this website for more details: Association of Canadian Publishers. Here's what they have to say about it:
Many publishers have a publicity department that will handle this while the book is on the front list. However, once the next season is published, or you have published the book on your own, the job of getting publicity exposure for the book falls to the authors themselves.Now, this is not to say that we don't still need trade publishers in this day and age. I wrote a thread here a little while ago explaining how an agent can help you sell your books' subsidiary rights to various trade publishers around the world for extra profit. Here is that thread: You Could Earn More $$ Selling Rights Than Selling Books. (But the key here is to keep your primary copyright and sell only the subsidiary rights to these publishers rather than giving full control of your project over to them ... which is what generally happens within the traditional trade publishing model.)
Trade publishers don't want you to know that. They want you to hold onto the dream that, if you publish with them, you'll have the best chance at becoming the next J.K. Rowling or John Grisham. Because if you hold onto that belief, then you'll keep sending your manuscripts to them rather than publishing elsewhere.
To further support this strong case for self-publishing, I recommend you read the article mentioned within this thread: This Author Earns $450,000 Per Year from Email Marketing. Mark Dawson was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his trade publisher sold for him, he switched to self-publishing for his next book and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead of a mere trade published author.
Which leads me back to this lingering myth that, in certain book publishing models, you don't have to sell your own books--your publisher will do it for you. The fact is that it doesn't matter which model you use; you're going to have to sell your own books. It's always been that way for the majority of authors. And it always will be.
So use this forum! Learn as much as you can about selling! There's a good chance you'll see better results from this than you will from a traditional trade publishing deal.