August 5, 2016

The Real Cost of Self-Publishing: Carrie Dickie

By Morgan Mackey

Carrie Dickie“The Real Cost of Self-Publishing” is an ongoing blog where we ask a self-publishing author to break down his or her expenses, in order to give others an idea of the costs involved in creating a successful book. Today, we talk to Carrie Dickie, author of “Network Marketing: The View From Venus.”

Dickie’s manual gives readers insight into the network marketing industry. The author describes network marketing as “the purest form of distribution.” A network marketer sells products directly to the consumer, taking the middleman retailer out of the process and the bottom line. Dickie, 54, is an independent distributor for LifeVantage, which sells nutritional supplements designed to reduce stress on the body. In conjunction with this, she runs her own website,, that features motivational blogs and opportunities to get involved with the product (both buying it and selling it).

Although the book’s primary focus is the nuts and bolts of network marketing, The View From Venus also doubles as a self-help book by encouraging readers to help realize their passions.

Dickie lives with her husband and two sons in Orange County, CA. and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in advertising. She worked as a waitress, personal trainer, and held many other odd jobs before starting a career in network marketing 23 years ago. She is currently working on her second book, My Journey to Venus, due out later this year.

Dickie has sold 2,500 copies of her book in paperback and audiobook since it came out in April of this year. Below, she shares her experience with self-publishing her book.

The Breakdown

Online Publisher: $7,500

Initially, Dickie used a company she found online to help her self-publish her book. With this company, she spent $2,000-$3,000 for editing, and layout. More fees came with more edits, and expenses started to add up without a book being close to finished, and it would take weeks to reach a representative from the company. Her experience with this service was frustrating, and she eventually severed ties with the company.

Editor: $3,600

After her experience with the online publisher, Dickie hired a professional editor. Dickie would write a chapter, then send that chapter to the editor. During this process, however, she felt as if her book was being edited too much and she was losing her voice. She then turned to friends and family members to help edit but later hired another professional editor through a book shepherd, with whom she was satisfied. All editors focused on content, grammar and punctuation.

Illustration: $200

She commissioned an artist to paint an image that was published inside the book.

Book shepherd: $2,000

After her experience with the initial company she worked with, Dickie hired a book shepherd to finish the process of self-publishing her book. With this publishing consultant’s help, Dickie was referred to skilled professionals who helped further edit, design and lay out the book, which was ready for publishing within 3-4 weeks. This fee reflects the book shepherd’s fee and not the fees of the professionals subsequently hired.

Design and Layout: $500

Dickie hired a professional to design and lay out the book.

Printing: $2,000

She published the book through CreateSpace on Amazon at $4 per printed copy. She initially ordered 300 copies of her paperback book and then ordered more copies once those sold.

Audiobook: $2,000

Dickie’s book shepherd referred her to a professional who recorded the audiobook for her.

Cover: $1,000

Dickie’s book shepherd referred her to a professional who designed  her book cover.

Miscellaneous expenses: $1,000

Dickie didn’t keep an exact total of all the expenses, but she knows there were miscellaneous costs that came during this process and estimates that they added up to about $1,000.

Marketing: $0

Dickie didn’t spend any money on marketing. Rather, she had an established group of friends and colleagues who promoted her work. She also promoted her book during some of her public speaking events.

The Bottom Line: $19,800

In the end, Dickie spent around $19,800 on self-publishing Network Marketing: The View From Venus.

 Dickie shares her advice for people interested in starting the process of self-publishing:

  • “Stick with professionals. I tended to want to go with my friend’s dad and my family members, and that’s fantastic and they are all wonderful, but you have to get with a professional. Just pay the money and do it.”
  • Dickie learned that the online publisher she first hired owned the ISBN for her book. She later discovered that whoever owns the ISBN may own the book. “You might get royalties, but they own the book.” It was devastating to discover that she didn’t own her own book. “It was shocking, she said. –
  • Hire those who live in your area. “Don’t do anything online. I wouldn’t trust anyone you can’t reach easily and talk with personally. I wouldn’t do anything without getting massive referrals and getting feedback from other authors, because there are a lot of people out there with their fingers out to take your money.”

BlueInk Review offers credible and unbiased reviews of self-published books exclusively. Visit us at If you’d like to receive more blogs like this, straight to your inbox, sign up here.

Morgan Mackey is a student at the University of Colorado Denver studying Communications. She was BlueInk’s summer intern.

3 thoughts on “The Real Cost of Self-Publishing: Carrie Dickie

  1. James. If I had used a professional book shephard I would have saved myself at least $5000 — probably more. First of all referrals are not to be taken lightly. Second, they do a lot more than simply refer vendors. If you choose a good one they will educate you on what not to do: i.e. in Carrie’s experience, to get the hell out of a deal where they own the ISBN. They will lead you through legalities to watch for, how to make your book professional in every way, and how to save money without taking short cuts.

    You are correct that you can do all of this yourself, it’s not rocket science, but a lot of people are not DIYers and have learned enough over the years to use professionals that have already learned the painful, expensive lessons.

    I also agree with Barbara’s response in that not everyone writes a book to make money off the book — few do — but every author has a different goal, a different budget, and time management needs.

    Thanks guys.

  2. Barbara Martin says:

    I agree with James, but I believe Carrie is probably happy with her book and is most likely using it as a selling tool to get more business. Not all books are meant to be a commercial success. If business people, (who are generally not professional writers) want a book that is a commercial success they invest in a ghostwriter. Carrie mentioned, she has a loyal networking group. She also has 74 reviews – all five-star ratings.

  3. James says:

    This post is a bit disingenuous. This is NOT the true cost of self-publishing a book – this is the true cost of falling for online scams.

    It’s not fair to say “I paid a bunch of people money without looking into what it got me, then decided it wasn’t worth it and paid someone else to do the same thing, then just had friends do it” and claim that’s all just “part of the cost” of self-publishing.

    There’s so much advice you’re NOT giving here that people need to know. For example, the editing costs here are way too much and scream “scam”. As does someone asking $7500 for “online publishing”. These numbers are huuuge red flags. Imagine going to a car dealership and seeing a 2009 Honda Civic selling for $130,000. Something’s wrong there. This author bought that Honda Civic.

    A book shepherd is a waste of money as well. You’re paying someone to refer you – this is likely not going to get you a good deal as they’ll refer to friends / partners.

    Marketing: $0? Maybe in terms of “the internet is mostly free”, but Marketing is, for most people, the part that will be the biggest time/money sink. Your time is worth something, don’t forget that. It’s the biggest part of self-publishing by a long shot, and writing it off as “free” is essentially lying to your readers.

    “Just pay the money and do it” is a quote from the author – that’s scary. I guess it explains why she got scammed so many times, though.

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