I’ve heard all sorts of sad stories about writers paying publicity agents, or taking out boxed advertisements themselves, in an attempt to catch the attention of fickle readers.
The worst tale of woe was a writer who’d gone down the vanity publishing rabbit hole, then laid out an additional $9,000 for banner ads, paid reviews and even a couple of billboards! This resulted in additional sales of 50 books, so I dread to think what her overall loss was.
It seems to me that the biggest hurdle to overcome is simply that of finding a way to get your name into readers’ heads, along with the type of story you write. This was partly why I chose the eccentric pen name of Augustus Devilheart when I started self-publishing six years ago. I reverted to my own name, for various reasons including honesty.
Lesia Daria chose to pay a marketing service for her first novel, and her experience is told in this article:
Have any off you ever hired a publicity company?