how to write a book

Rob Kosberg On Making an Impact with a Bestseller Book

Rob Kosberg of Bestseller Publishing explains what goes into writing a bestseller and how to write a bestselling book that can increase your impact and income.

Can a self-published book be a bestseller? Rob Kosberg, National Bestselling Author and the founder of Bestseller Publishing, explains how he can help you become a bestselling author.

Learn how to write a bestselling self-help book with his Publish. Promote. Profit.™ system and finding out why “How much do bestselling authors make per book?” is the wrong question to ask.

If you’re wondering, “How to make my book a bestseller?” and want to learn how to write a bestseller, order Ron’s Publish. Promote. Profit.™ book.

Resources mentioned in the interview:

Rob Kosberg On Making An Impact With A Bestseller Book

Priya Florence Shah:

Rob Kosberg is a National bestselling author, and the founder of BestSellerPublishing. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Forbes and Entrepreneur magazine as well as hundreds of other shows, podcasts, magazines and articles.

Rob’s Publish. Promote. Profit.™ book and system have been used by tens of thousands of authors in dozens of countries. Simply put, Rob helps entrepreneurs become the go-to authority in their market by writing, launching and profiting with a bestselling book.

That’s so awesome, Rob! I love your website and I love the stuff that you offer. I mean, the Publish. Promote. Profit.™ package that you offer. So can you tell us why a bestselling book is such an amazing branding vehicle?

Rob Kosberg:

Yeah, it’s really nothing new, right? This has been going on for decades, but more generations. People that are at the top of their industry tend to be those that write a book. And what comes first the chicken or the egg? Sometimes it’s the chicken sometimes it’s the egg.

For me and for my clients, it’s writing a book to then use that book to get to the top of their industry. Because leaders are readers, right?

And so, those that are trying to learn in a particular industry tend to read, and they tend to read from those thought leaders that have written the books and so we just put that first and say, “Okay, well, if you want to be that thought leader, get the book out.”

Priya Florence Shah:

Of course, most people find it terribly hard to write a book. Not everyone is up to the job of writing the book, actually. So, of course, there are plenty of options for people like that. But can you tell us what it is that you have to offer them?

Rob Kosberg:

Yeah, you know, writing is hard. It’s it certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I think it doesn’t come naturally to most people. Oftentimes, by sheer discipline, some people are able to get their content out.

And so I started my company nine years ago for authors like myself that want to be an author and see the real benefits of being an author and yet aren’t daily writers and need a fast track way to get their content out of them in a meaningful way. And I made a lot of mistakes.

This is how I started my company. I wrote my first book 12 years ago for a business that I had at that time, which was in the financial services field. And if you think back to what was 12 years ago, well, it was the financial crisis that we experience in the US and in much of the world, and I used a book to start a new business and build it to multi-millions.

Because of the opportunities, the book got me, but I made lots of mistakes. I hired a ghostwriter, and that was a total waste of money and so when we decided to start bestseller publishing, I wanted something that that would solve those problems and cure those mistakes.

And that might sound a little cryptic, but I’m happy to explain it if you like. So when I was doing this 12 years ago, I thought there were basically two ways to write a book. One was to just sit down and get it out, right, sit down and write 1000 words a day, and hope that I’m going somewhere.

And the other is to hire a professional ghostwriter. And so I knew that I wanted speed. I’m a business owner and I’m a business person. So I know that money follows speed. And so, if you can implement it quickly then you can do better.

And so I hired a ghostwriter, and a typical ghostwriter is, on the low end 10 to $15,000 and that’s the low end. On the high end, easily 100 – 50,000, and so I got one somewhere in the middle.

And, it was a complete waste of money because one of the issues, one of the problems with traditional ghostwriting is in the way that a traditional ghostwriter gets the content. Usually, it’s in a question and answer format.

And when you do a question-answer format, much like this, right? What you’re getting is you’re getting content, but oftentimes you don’t get context. And the context is the story. Right? That’s the stuff that keeps people interested and keeps it intriguing.

And so, I got this 200-page book back that just felt like it could have been written by anybody. And I ended up throwing it away. I had already paid for my ghostwriter. So I just walked away from that and ended up writing it myself.

Took me 18 months to write it, but I was like, “This is painful and there should be an easier way.” So we invented something called hybrid ghostwriting. The short version is that we create content the way a great TED Talk creates content.

And if you’ve ever seen a great TED Talk, they often follow a very, very similar format. They start with the story, there’s usually an open loop, they go into the main points that they want to make from their story. They close the loop, culminate the story, and then you know, have a good, strong conclusion.

So we thought if we can model that for every chapter that our clients do, and they speak their book in that order, well, now we have both context and content. And so we invented it, and have perfected it.

We’ve published close to 1000 authors at this point, and I’ve spoken to 10s of thousands of other kinds of teaching this process works really good and it creates content quickly.

Priya Florence Shah:

It sounds very interesting and it sounds very unique because I don’t think anyone else is doing that.

Rob Kosberg:

I’ve never heard anybody do it. I’ve never heard anybody talk about it before. But I’ve been talking about it a lot over the years. So I’m sure other people have modelled it or copied it or whatever.

But, you know, the idea is creating both context and content. And that is the big pitfall with ghostwriting. And I have many clients that come to me after paying 10s of thousands of dollars to ghostwriters and being unsatisfied. And it’s because there’s no context.

And so we have to make sure that we have that. So all of our writers, actually most of them are screenwriters out of LA, my office is in LA. So we have a lot of really talented storytellers that are writers and because of that, and because of our process, we’re able to really create interesting books that keep people intrigued and that is in the voice of our author.

So it’s fun. And that’s of course, only one part. You then have to market the book and then you have to use the book to make money, which all these are important aspects of it.

Priya Florence Shah:

That’s fascinating. That’s quite an amazing process. And I’ve never heard of that. So I mean, this is the first time I’m hearing about it. So how do you go about onboarding your authors? Suppose if I had to send someone to you, how would they go about the process of, you know …

Rob Kosberg:

Getting started? Yeah, getting the book. Yeah, obviously, we love referrals. But we actually eat our own cooking. I mean, most of my clients come from my books, like Publish. Promote. Profit.™ We use online advertising and marketing. We sell thousands of these a month, online using YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, advertising.

And so if somebody wants to get started with us, whether somebody’s listening to this podcast or someone you send to us or someone that comes through the book, the first step is always what we call an author strategy call with one of our author’s development coaches.

And that’s kind of like taking a deep dive into what’s your goal with the book? What are you really trying to achieve? Who is your ideal audience? And some people come to us and quite frankly, a book is maybe good for them, but it’s not really a good fit with us in our company.

Meaning that someone just wants to write fiction and sell a million copies of their book. Well, that’s great. But that’s not really what we do. And to sell a million copies is harder than winning the lottery. You’d be better off buying lottery tickets.

For every JK Rowling and, and 50 Shades of Grey, there are a million other books that do absolutely nothing. So, we will want to look at what’s the goal? What are you trying to achieve? Who’s your market?

And we’ve done books for clients in 30 to 40 different genres, over 25 different countries at this point. So, we have a lot of different examples we can pull from.

And then the next step is a deep dive into who their audience is. We want to know how to hook and speak to their ideal clients so that our team can help develop the title, the subtitle, the table of contents, and then move them all to the actual ghostwriter that’s going to help them to develop the book.

Priya Florence Shah:

Right. And then do you also help them use the book to build their business?

Rob Kosberg:

We do. That’s usually why people come to us is because of our background in strategy. Most publishers don’t, as I said before, eat their own cooking. I have used my books for 12 years to grow my business.

And so if you want to do that, who are you going to go to? Someone that does it actively every day or someone that doesn’t. And so there’s some things that we can do and some things that we can’t do. Right?

So we do a book launch for our clients, and paid advertising, big social media campaign, press releases, the whole nine yards, worldwide launch. And we guarantee that the book is going to hit bestsellers in multiple categories and multiple countries that we know we can do because we do such extensive advertising.

We can also book our clients on real TV in the US and Canada, as well as podcasts, blogs, print, you name it, all over the world. These are things we know we can do for our clients.

What I can’t do is – I can’t take money out of someone’s hand and put it in their hand. Right? So they have to be good at what they do. We can help them to develop the leads and to use their books. To drive customers, but then at the end of the day they have to perform, right? Give a satisfying result to that customer.

Priya Florence Shah:

Right, right. Of course, they have to be good in their field.

Rob Kosberg:

Yeah, actually, if you’re writing a book, hopefully, they are, right?

Priya Florence Shah:

Yeah, they better be. So where do you see publishing going? I mean, of course, a lot of traditional publishers are kind of collapsing. We see that all around.

So, when it comes to independent publishing and Indie books, where do you see that going in the future? Are audiobooks gonna be big and what’s your plan for the future?

Rob Kosberg:

Well, audiobooks are already big. They’ll only get bigger. People love audio. It’s a great method of taking in content and people can do other things while they’re listening.

I think what you’re going to be left with, and you’re already seeing it, you’re going to be left with a few really, really large traditional publishers. And then you’re going to see the market really become diverse, product-wise and opportunity-wise, with publishing companies like mine, that offer a really specific result to a market.

And then, of course, self-publishing continues to grow. And Amazon has levelled the playing field. That’s both good and bad, right? Like anybody can publish garbage. And that’s unfortunate because there is a lot of garbage to sort through.

If you ever do a search on Amazon for anything, you just get tons of garbage. But usually, if you do a good job with the book, the cover, the title, and the reviews, then your book can really stand out amongst the garbage.

And that’s something that we focus on ourselves, but I think you’re going to see more of that. I mean, Amazon sells over a million eBooks a day right now and that’s only growing. Of course, it’s stealing market share away from all these kinds of traditional publishers and bookstores.

Priya Florence Shah:

Yeah. Cuz I was reading that Penguin was sold to someone. I don’t know, maybe that was in India, probably Penguin India or something like that, because they’re not doing well at all.

Rob Kosberg:

They’re definitely not and I think competition is good for the market, but it’s often not good for those that sit at the top of the hierarchy, and so that’s good.

Priya Florence Shah:

All those not willing to adapt. They want to stick to their old marketing practices and they don’t want to update themselves.

Rob Kosberg:

And you know, people don’t care who publishes the book actually. I have never been asked one time WHO the publisher of a certain book is. Now, there are a few clients that come to us and they’re like, “I really want my book to be picked up by Simon and Schuster, by Penguin,” and I’m like, “You know, okay, that’s great. But why?”

I mean, for most people, it’s just ego, that’s all it is, ego. And even the idea of getting into bookstores. I asked my clients, “So you want to get into bookstores? I mean, we can work on that and potentially do that for you. But tell me, when was the last time that you bought a book in a bookstore?”

I can’t remember the last time, but I buy books. I mean, literally, I have stacks of books in my office here. I buy books every single week on Amazon. And it’s been years since I bought a book in a traditional bookstore. So again, that’s ego to be quite honest.

You want to be where the buyers are, and the buyers are online. And so, let go of the ego and really think instead about making the kind of impact and income that you can. And you’re going to do that online more than offline these days.

Priya Florence Shah:

Absolutely. I love that you said that because it needs to be said. And people don’t realize that because everyone wants to go to a traditional publisher and I think that’s a waste of time. That’s a waste of energy.

And, you know, you’re not going to get anywhere with them, they don’t have the marketing budget for you, they can’t market your book for you. You’re gonna have to do it all yourself anyway, you know?

Rob Kosberg:

And, I talk about this all the time, but I still have people that ask these questions over and over, maybe they don’t hear my stuff. But, look, if you want a traditional publishing deal, then just understand this. They’re not in the habit of giving money away, right?

The big companies, they’re going to choose an author that has a large platform, a large following, and can sell a lot of books and make a lot of money. And that’s the only reason they’re going to write you a big check.

And if you don’t have a big Twitter following, a big Facebook following, a big email list – if you don’t have a big platform, then guess what? They’re not going to write you a check. Yeah.

So, you can waste two or three years on this process of trying to find a traditional publisher, and they’re not going to buy you for your idea. I hate to say that, but that’s just the truth. They’re buying you your market. That’s it.

And so you know, don’t lose time. Instead, focus on building your platform, launching your book, and keeping all the money.

Priya Florence Shah:

Exactly! Why pay them and give them your hard-earned money for nothing? For absolutely nothing at all? And, like you said, it really does make a difference. People don’t care who publishes the book. You published a book, that’s what matters.

Rob Kosberg:

No one asked who published that, no one asks.

Priya Florence Shah:

That’s like, where did you go to school? Nobody cares.

Rob Kosberg:

Look, if you went to Harvard or Yale or something like that, then sure, you might flaunt that. No one cared or asked me because I didn’t go there.

But the reality is the fact that you wrote a book already puts you in a very, very elite class. It just does. You’re one in a million if you’ve done that, and that puts you in an elite class and people are going to judge you based on the content of your book.


Priya Florence Shah:

Absolutely. So what kind of marketing package do you offer? Do you do everything? The ads and the reviews and all that outreach and like you said, the podcasts and all that stuff?

Rob Kosberg:

When I started the company, again, this was probably an outgrowth of my own frustration, right? And the amount of money I felt like was swindled from me. But you know, there’s a long line of people that will take your money.

And so I paid for individual press releases on my book that amounted to nothing. I paid for email drops that amounted to nothing. I paid for lots of things, testing, what’s going to work and, in the last couple of years, we’ve spent over a million dollars of my personal money on Facebook advertising alone. And that’s been very, very successful for it.

And we continue to spend a lot of money, but I’m not afraid to try and test things. But in the early days, there were so many scammers, so when we decided to do this, I just said what do people really want? They want a result. They don’t care about all of what you do, just get me a result.

So I just said, “Okay, we’ll do it all. We’ll create a done-for-you package. We’ll write the ads, place the ads, pay for the ads, and write 60 to 70 different ads for worldwide release. We’ll do national press releases here in the US – they go out to 1000 media outlets. We’ll do a big social media campaign. Let’s just do it all.

And, then just guarantee the result. And so that’s how we do our PR, very unlike a typical PR agency. That typical PR agency guarantees nothing. They’ll pitch you and maybe they’ll get great results, maybe they won’t.

I just said, well that’s not what I want. I want to get a result for the money that I spend, so when we created a PR firm inside of BestsellerPublishing, I said okay, what do people want? They want to give me money and be guaranteed results. So we guaranteed to get them on TV.

Now we have to be a little selective, right? Although we’ve gotten vampire authors on TV, we don’t do much of that. Most of what we do is business-related, self-help, entrepreneurs, business owners, and get them on TV, radio, and all that. So yeah, the short answer is that people pay us for results and that’s what we do.

Priya Florence Shah:

Yeah, that’s what people want today. I mean, no one’s willing to pay for just testing. So that sounds awesome. And if I have some clients here who are interested, then obviously I’m gonna send them across to you.

So what are your plans for the future? Are you planning to come out with any new packages or go with this? And of course, you gotta adapt to the market and what’s happening? Social and everything.

Rob Kosberg:

Yeah, I think I’ve been asked that a lot. And I don’t know that I have a good answer other than more of the same. We’re always adapting to how we market. Right? So I’m always doing new things to market, which I then teach my authors or I implement for them.

But, you know, the foundational element is a book. Right? And I got the Bible here, which was written throughout millennia, but written thousands of years ago, right? I mean, it’s like, nothing has changed in one sense, that this is the product.

And the only thing that I am changing is, as you say, trying to adapt to the market and how I can get more of my clients’ books into their customers’ hands. And so we’re always testing new ways to do that, but there’s no new thing I’m selling at this point.

It’s the book. It’s making the book a bestseller. It’s getting my clients on PR and media and then helping my clients to make money.

Priya Florence Shah:

From your book. That’s right. Now, what about online courses? What do you think about that? Do you recommend that your clients create something on the back end?

Rob Kosberg:

Oh, I do. Yeah. Hundred percent. I mean, one of the first things we ask and I alluded to this in the author strategy session is, tell me about your business. What do you sell? What do you do?

And, if all they’re trying to do is sell books and make a million dollars from selling a book, we wake them up, right? Though, this book, I love this one… So this book, in the last year sold about 15,000 copies. Yeah, that’s not that many, right?

But this book this month will pass $3 million in revenue, just from this book. Obviously, that’s not royalties, that’s all the products I sell, right? The workbook, the audiobook, the coaching programs, the done-for-you services that all come from this book.

And that doesn’t include all the other marketing that I do – Facebook group marketing and YouTube and Google AdWords, I’m just talking about this one book. So you can sell just 10,000 copies and make a million dollars if you know what you’re doing. If you have other things to sell.

So do we recommend courses? 100%. We recommend that they have a coaching program, a consulting program, that they sell done-for-you services, that they sell courses, all those things. Because the real money comes from this customer who bought the book and says, “Hey, I want more from you than just the book. I want your help. Not just the book.”

Priya Florence Shah:

Yeah, and you gotta have a whole ecosystem behind the book, right?

Rob Kosberg:

You do, but it can start out small. So it started out small for me when I wrote my first book 12 years ago. Basically, it was me and my book. And then me calling local radio and TV stations trying to get on TV and radio, and print and that kind of thing.

And then that led to opportunities. And then it was me on the telephone, picking up the phone, closing deals. And I’m looking for my first book, I’ll show you a copy of it. My first book is Life After Debt. And it was for my financial services company 12 years ago, and that book led to opportunities to get on the radio.

And the very first day that I was on a radio show, I gave my office number, and I said, if you’d like a free copy, call my office and I’ll ship you a free copy. I didn’t know what I was doing. Right? I was figuring it out along the way. And there wasn’t a whole team around me. It was me.

And that night that I was on the radio, they aired the show twice, just a five-minute radio show, typical. And a lady called me and said, “Is this Rob Kosberg, the author that I heard on the radio today?” And I was like, “Holy Cow, yeah, this is me.” And she became a client after about a 20-minute phone call. It paid me $6000 and that was the very first day I was on the radio.

So I did everything. Right? I did the book, I got on the radio, I picked up the telephone, I closed the deal. But I knew I was onto something from that first day, and then you can build from there, right?

Priya Florence Shah:

Yeah, of course. It starts small and you have to build on that. I try to explain to people that just publishing a book is not enough, that the book is just like your calling card and it’s something that you give away to create authority and to position yourself in the mind of your customer.

So that’s not going to make you a lot of money. But you got to have something on the back end to offer them.

Rob Kosberg:

Right. Yeah. Hundred percent. It starts with the book. It doesn’t end with the book. It’s like owning a Ferrari that just sits in the garage. What good is that?

Priya Florence Shah:

Yeah. So what courses do you have, Rob? What courses do you offer to someone who wants to maybe study online or is from my country?

Rob Kosberg:

Yeah, we have a couple, not that many, because most of what we do is the done-for-you services. So, if someone goes through my book funnel and buys my book, then they can get the audiobook.

And then, I have six courses that go with the audiobook – that’s $47. They can then upgrade to what we call BSPU, which is Bestseller Publishing University, and that’s a series of training and even live coaching calls with me. I do a live coaching call every Tuesday at noon Pacific and that’s 300 bucks, which is very inexpensive, relatively speaking.

But obviously, the goal of all of that is to find those who really just want to write a bigger check and have us do everything. So, I have a lot of courses and we sell thousands of these every year and I’m thrilled with that. But ultimately, it’s the people who do that say, “This is a lot of work. Can your team do it?” that we’re looking for.

But if someone wants to do it themselves, and these courses are great, and the best thing is to go to Publish. Promote. Profit.™ and you can see everything there.

Priya Florence Shah:

Okay, great. That sounds that sounds awesome. So, I’m gonna wrap this up now. It is awesome talking to you. And it was very enlightening because there’s so much that you said that, in the publishing industry we know this is true, but people outside the industry don’t know that.

And so I think they need to hear it and I’m happy that you said all that stuff. I’m happy that I can share that with them from someone who knows what they’re doing.

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