I have a strange question. I have a decent manuscript about contemporary issues, and a legitimate agent at a well-known agency. I haven't asked her this straight-out, because I think I know the answer already.
Would it be uncouth for her to let publishers know that I intend to spend six-figures of my own cash to promote it and take a six-month leave of absence from my profession to promote it full time? Or would that strike them as unethical and smell too much like POD?
It's certainly not unethical or besmirched by the stench of hucksterism.
However, you have to sell the book first. Then you meet with your publicist and together figure out what you do to work WITH her/him to promote the book. Yes it is absolutely true you'll have to do a lot of your own pr. It's also absolutely true that no publicist at a publisher likes to hear that. You want to have your publisher's publicity team working with you, not thinking you're a bull in a china shop.
Meet with them. Write up a list of things that they'd like to do. See which ones the publisher will pay for. You buy the rest.
And remember, throwing lots of money at a publicity campaign is often not as effective as a you think it will be. You can BUY advertising and marketing support. You can buy a publicist's time, but you cannot buy publicity. You can generate it, you can support it, but you cannot buy it.