13: Rob Kosberg on Writing a Bestselling Book
Rob is a two-time best-selling author and founder of Best Seller Publishing, the definitive leader in authority marketing and business growth strategies. He is recognized for his expertise in helping coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs to publish, promote, and profit with their own Best Selling books.
Rob Kosberg on Writing a Bestselling Book
Our guest is Rob Kosberg. He is a two time international bestselling author and Founder of BestSellerPublishing.org. He’s been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX News, just about every major news station in the world. Rob has spoken to and taught thousands of entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants how to stop hunting for clients and instead position themselves as the hunted using their own bestselling book. Great to have you here. Thank you for coming on to the show and helping teach me entrepreneurs a couple of things.
Great to be with you.
I had this idea for a book and I wasn’t sure what to do. I got on the phone with Rob and he coached me through getting it together and then we got it published. Rob handled the whole thing for me. Got my book to number one status on Amazon. I must have had 50 interviews and live appearances as a result of working with Bob. What a great experience that was and what an incredible company you have.
Thank you. Super honored to help you.
Part of why I select people you to talk to is because we have a show here for entrepreneurs. There’s nothing I love more than giving back and helping entrepreneurs, which is the entire focus of this show. This is the entire focus of your life. This is why it’s great to have you here. I want to take you back in time a little bit. Let’s go back to the time before you had your book, before you had BestSellerPublishing.org. Take us back to the business you were in before and how the book led you out of that and into what you’re doing now.
I was in the real estate industry. I got my real estate license at eighteen and sold real estate through college. That was probably in my DNA because my dad owned a real estate company. I’m 52,this is going back a ways. It’s mid-80s, I’m selling real estate. I did really well. I was a top 100 real estate agent in the state of Florida. I became a broker at nineteen. A lot of real estate experience. In the early 2000s, I owned three companies, all embedded in the real estate industry. I owned a real estate company, owned a mortgage company, and I was a licensed title agent and we did closings. Those businesses were crushing it up until the time they were not. Everybody knows what happened. Certainly in Florida, we were crushed by the financial crisis. My business went from doing $100 million a year in transactions to zero in about eight months. If it’d cut in half, you could make it. Literally I closed the doors of the business in early 2008. I’m in my early 40s at that point and I’m licking my wounds and scratching my head wondering, “What do I do now?” That’s where the book came in and led me on to a completely different an incredible trajectory.
Why a book? Where did you get the idea of even writing a book?
I got the idea from people you know. I was in a couple of different coaching groups and mastermind-like groups. It was Dan Kennedy and Mike Dillard, they’re both pretty famous now. Dan has been famous for a long time. Most people didn’t know Mike at least at that time because that’s almost ten years ago. I was looking for advice on what should I do to reinvent myself in a brand new space. The advice was that I should write a book to create the authority, credibility, even celebrity that I needed to start a new company. The company I started was a financial services company, which in 2009, not an easy time to start a financial services company. The book just exploded the business and exploded my success.
We had a guy here who basically dropped a $100 million business in the garbage can, not buy his own doing, but it happened. He basically dusted himself off, picked up the pieces, and wrote a book. You got a book. So what? Everybody has a book. How did it become your life? How did this book make you who you are? Because that’s basically what happened.
There’s no linear progression from that book to where I am right now. One thing led to the other. The thing that I was all in on because the advice I’d gotten was, “I’m going to use this book to create authority and to close deals and even to create some celebrity, if possible, in this brand new field where I’m unknown.”Radio was my primary vehicle. I sent my book out to all the local radio stations and basically said, “I’m an author. I can help give some advice to your listeners about all the financial trauma that’s going on in the world.” I had a couple of radio stations bite. From these little two-minute segments that I was doing on the radio, I was starting to attract clients that were worth $5,000 and $10,000 to my company. I thought, “I’m on to something here. This is something that I can potentially do.” That literally grew in to about twelve months later, I was doing four hours a week of live radio, like a question and answer show where people would call in. I was giving my book away and I went from zero to a million dollars in income in about thirteen months in an awful economy with this brand new business all because of the book.
You used the book to get on the radio. You used the radio to create a show for yourself. Then you used the show to get clients.
I used the book to get on the radio. I used the radio to give away the book to generate leads. I used the book with clients to show them that I was the authority so that they would buy with me. That’s what it did. I was all in because I had never done this before. I didn’t have a bunch of people that were telling me what I need to do and how I should do it. It was a lot newer ten years ago. Even Amazon wasn’t what it is today. A lot of mistakes, a lot of wasted money, but at the end of the day, it worked. It led me into the business that I’m currently in now.
Did you have the vision for the entire process in advance or did you know that if you took the first step something good might happen next?
I did not have the vision. I did have a vision that I knew the book would generate leads for me. I believed that. I did have the vision that the book would give me authority and credibility. I didn’t begin to have the tactical pieces in place to make it happen.
How much of it do you think was going on faith or trust?
A huge part of it was. I’m in my early 40s. I’m living in an 8,000 square foot house. I have all the trappings of this wealth that I had previously. I’m taking art off the wall to sell for Christmas presents for my kids. I had this giant nut, this giant expense. I needed to make this work. My family was counting on me to find a way to make this work. I didn’t know how it’s going to work. I laugh about it now, but it was painful. It was terrible.
What’s interesting in terms of contrast is that a lot of people listening might never have made the wealth that you did, yet wondering where did that desperation come from? Was it to preserve your lifestyle or was it something deeper that drove you? I’m looking to understand your mindset at that moment.
It wasn’t about preserving my lifestyle. It was about protecting and taking care of my family. There are all kinds of psychological drivers that I probably can’t even begin to express that were going on inside of me. Ultimately I can’t let down my family. I’ve been married a long time. I have three incredible boys. I needed to protect them. I needed to take care of them. You remember what 2009. The stock market went down 6,000. There was fear that there’d be a run on the banks and that ATMs would stop working. I was pretty intimately involved because I was in that industry but it was it was pretty terrible. It could have been even worse. Fortunately, it wasn’t. There was this motivation to protect my family.
That could be, in your case, was the absolute strongest most powerful motivator you had where you were willing to risk money to go print a book and make enough copies of it to send it out to radio stations. Clearly you are motivated. I love to hear exactly what it is that motivates different people for different reasons. Once you started getting those calls and you started booking clients, take us through the process. You would get them on the phone. You would interview them or set up a strategy session looking for $5,000 or $10,000 deal. Where did that business go? That’s not the business you’re in today. Tell us the progression of that.
Even though I was making a lot of money in the real estate business, I was tired of it and was looking for a way out. I was not looking for the exit that I had. There was a big part of me that was happy that that chapter of my life was closed. After a couple of years in the financial services business of making money and getting back to the point where I’m not as stressed, I don’t feel my family is at risk, I began looking and thinking, “I’m back in the real estate business.”This is not that fulfilling for me, meaning that it was too similar. I sold that company about. It was still doing multimillions and very successful. People started coming to me in 2009, 2010 asking me how I’m doing it because my business started exploding. I started paying for radio spots. I was doing national radio ads at one point. Things were on a on a great trajectory. A lot of business owners were coming to me that I was helping whose businesses were way down. They were basically asking, “Is this something that you think would work for me?”In 2009, 2010 I didn’t know if it would work for them or not because maybe I got lucky. I started helping business owners to do a book, to launch the book, make it a bestseller, start getting them media, even helping them with their various lead generation processes. I fell in love with it. I was like, “This is what I want to be doing. I don’t want to be doing financial services.”That’s why I sold the company and I started Best Seller Publishing in 2011.
You were making money in the financial industry still and you started Best Seller Publishing. Give us some of the learning points around the first few dozen or maybe the first 100 people that signed up to work with you.
Certainly the first few, it was a big learning experience. I didn’t charge him very much money at all. Maybe this is my life in real estate, but I always felt people are paying for a result. They’re not paying for me to do things for them. They don’t care if I send press releases or care if I make telephone calls. They’re coming to me for a result. I wasn’t sure if I could get them that result. When I learned that I could, the key for me was putting into a system that now I could replicate and duplicate for each new client that would come to me.
Not that this is a direct answer to question, but probably something that was most exciting was a lot a lot of people have come out and duplicated various things. As far as I know, I was the first one that basically said, “We’ll guarantee that your book will be a bestseller. We’ll guarantee in writing that we’ll get you media, radio, TV, et cetera or we’ll give you your money back. It’s free.” A little like real estate. When do you get paid in real estate? You get paid when the house closes. You don’t get paid for showing people homes. You get paid for closing. Maybe it was twenty plus years in real estate where I felt how cool would it be if authors could come to me or potential authors and actually pay for a guaranteed result. That, for me, was exciting and it was exciting for others as well.
Did you have that idea from the very first client that you brought into your company or did that develop over time?
It developed over time, but quickly. I can’t tell you the number of conversations, in the hundreds, that I have personally had with authors who paid well-known publishing companies tens of thousands of dollars and never got the result that they were promised. They had terrible taste in their mouth about the industry about what a scam it is, etc. I felt like, “That sucks.” That’s terrible when someone is paying $10,000, $15,000 and a few press releases go out or a few telephone calls are made. It doesn’t lead to the true value. When I heard that over and over and over again, I was like, “We can do better than that. We can actually promise a result.”
That’s exactly what business is all about. It’s about delivering results. A lot of people who start businesses, they start them with the idea that they’re good at something. They want to deliver a service and it makes them feel good when they succeed. It comes over time when you evolve to the point where you could literally say, “I guarantee it.”That is the point where most people see their business start to accelerate. It sounds like that was probably a point for you as well.
I’m certainly not the first to come up with that idea. Dan Kennedy has talked about it for years. The idea is that you’re reversing the risk, and it’s also the right thing to do. In so far as it is in your control, our services are done-for-you services. We do info products as well. When it comes to an information product where somebody actually has to take action on their own to get a result, then the guarantee has to be a little bit different. In so far as you’re doing a service for someone, if you can promise and guarantee the result, who wouldn’t want to do business with you?
Someone’s listening and says, “I’d like to write a book. I don’t know how to do it. I have an idea for it. I might even put a couple of pages down.” What would you say should be their next step in terms of moving that project forward?
If they’ve started writing, the first thing I would tell them to do is stop. I can’t tell you the number of authors who have come to me with hundreds of pages of blather. That’s not how you create a great work. If you want to build a tall building, you have to dig a deep foundation. The first thing you have to do is you have to consider, “Who am I writing this book for. What are their problems? What are their fears? What are their frustrations? How can I help them? How can I solve it?” If you want to write a memoir, that’s fine. Understand this. If no one knows who you are, if your name isn’t Hillary Clinton or Kim Kardashian, then probably no one is going to be interested in your memoir because they’re interested in their own lives. However, you can take your story and your experiences, if you translate that into how this helps somebody else, your memoir or your autobiography makes sense. The first thing is always “Who’s the audience?”You want to get as specific as possible as to what their fears, frustrations, pains are so that you can help them resolve those problems. From that, you can develop everything.
In a few sentences, you gave us a formula for starting out and putting at least the beginnings of an outline together for a book. The thing that I learned from the entire process is that as long as the book has some information in it that is entertaining and that people enjoy reading. The idea is what you do with the book, not so much the writing of it, or even the information in it to some degree. Isn’t that right?
It really is. What I tell our clients is, “No pun intended but for most publishing companies and certainly for traditional publishers, the story ends with the book.” For our clients, the story begins with the book. It’s all about what the book does for you that matters.
When my book was finally published and hit number one in Amazon in five different categories, we were all excited and thrilled. What I loved about your company and what you guys did was that you didn’t stop there. You sent my book out to publishers, to press, to TV studios, and radio stations. You had a person who set up interviews for me for weeks. It was an amazing experience. My only regret is that when I had the book and I was excited about the book, I didn’t create a product or a second step to the book. If you’re going to do a book, how about creating a course around what’s in your book that you could up sell when you sell your book or bring people in and teach it when you have a webinar or live event.
That is 100% correct. You want to have the next steps in mind. Going back to my story my financial service company, I never had an info product. I had the next step which was, “Let’s see if we can help you.” Let’s get on the telephone and have a one-on-one strategy call or consultation. You need a funnel, even a rudimentary funnel in place so that you can go from someone seeing you on TV or someone hearing you on a podcast or a radio into that funnel so that they take the next step with you. If you don’t have those things in place, unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the Good Morning America Show or Today’s Show or Oprah, all that traffic will be wasted.
There’s a lot of other companies that will charge you a lot of money to publish your book. For the most part, publishing a book to people who’ve never done it before seems to be the endgame. I think what you do is you tell people upfront that it’s not the endgame. It’s the beginning of a journey. I think that what that does is it helps us orient ourselves to what we’re supposed to do. With your help, do next to make sure that the book is successful and what follows is successful. Given that, when you bring somebody in and you work with them directly ,what is it that you do with their story or their material? Do you help them create their course or do you help them come up with that next step? Do you strategize with them?
I do, for my clients, weekly group coaching calls. This is my wheelhouse. My wheelhouse is not editing books. I have seven full time writers that do that stuff. What I’m about is the marketing and strategy piece of it. I take great joy in helping my clients strategize in how they can use the book to get what they want. What they want might be speaking engagements, which lead to clients. What they want might be to raise their fees. What they want might be to get their books sold into a movie. There are strategies that their actions have to be taken. Crossing your fingers is not a strategy. You have to take some action with the book.
Help me understand the mindset of a person who’s coming to you for the first time to talk to you about taking what they do in creating a book. How does that person feel? What is it that they’re thinking about and how do you work with them to help them understand what the process is?
I’d say the typical person is already a successful person in one way or another, meaning that they’re perhaps successful in their current business, but they want to go to the next level or they’ve overcome something and they want to make a bigger impact on the world and help other people to overcome the same thing that they’ve overcome. They’re at the point where A) Don’t know how to actually communicate that in a way that would be interesting to the public and B) Sometimes they don’t even know what to write if it’s a business owner that does all kinds of different things within their business. They have to distill that to the real magic that people are interested in. Most of the time when someone is coming to us that hasn’t already created their book, these are the questions that they have. “How do I do it? What do I actually write about? Do I have enough material and content?” Usually, the answer is, “No, you have way more than enough. We need to shut down and distill it into something that would be super appealing.”
This is an amazing journey that you’ve been on. I know firsthand that you offer an incredible service. What about now. Where is your passion today?
I still love what I do, serving people in this community at a high level. I do tend to get bored with things. Maybe that’s the entrepreneur in me. We’ve done books for U.S. Ambassadors. We’ve done books for celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs that run billion-dollar companies. I learn much interacting with people like you that has helped me to raise my game. I’m looking to serve on a bigger level. That means bigger media. That means more opportunities that I choose for speaking engagements. That means continuing to figure out our own lead generation so that we can hit more of the mass market. For us, it’s more of the same and serving more people.
A man with a mission. It’s a great mission to be on because many people are assisted by your company and getting to where they want to be in life. If it wasn’t a book, I know you’d be doing it some other way.
I think you’re probably right. At the moment, I don’t know what that is so it’s the book.
I have what I call the grand finale question. This is my ‘change the world’ question. The reason I ask this question is because I want you to, if you could, maybe step outside the box, if it’s sensible to do that or not. The real question here is what is it that you’re doing or would like to do that has the potential to actually change the world?
On a professional level, it’s what I do. One of the things that I love about what I do on a professional level is that the people that come to me, each one of them are looking to change their area of the world. That could be a financial adviser. It could be a dentist. It could be a doctor. It could be a speaker, a coach, consultant. My opportunity is that fifteen to twenty times every single month, we either do a new book or launch a book or do PR. I’m able to impact thousands of people through getting my clients message out. To me, that’s really cool. That’s a way for me not just to impact the world in one way, but in 150 ways a year to literally thousands and tens of thousands of people. Our average client, even in the first week, we’ll get 2,000 to 10,000 downloads of their books. On a personal level, for myself and my family, we always have been very spiritually minded and concerned about people that are less privileged than us. For myself and for my family, we have all kinds of philanthropic goals that we have before and continual even every single week, serving in some way either the homeless or the less fortunate. For us, that’s what makes life meaningful. It’s more personal. It’s me interacting with people and serving them.
I basically love doing that as well. I love what you said that you basically are a conduit. What I’m hearing is that you are not the change maker as you are the conduit for people who are changing the world. That is so powerful.
That’s exactly how I feel. I love that. I feel like I give people a voice, I give people an audience for them to help others to change and transform.
What is it that we can leave them with? Is there a place that they can go and look at a website or maybe read some articles that you’ve written? Is there anything that you have to offer?
They can go to the website BestSellerPublishing.org. There’s a lot of free content there. They can certainly download various case studies and look at our media and all of that. I’d love to give your audience a gift. We can create that right on the BestSellerPublishing.org site, something I’ve only given away a couple of times .One of the sexy and cool parts of our business is doing a lot of great PR for people. I’ve created a whole PR course that I’ve sold that basically walk someone through including scripts and templates and training on how to start booking their own PR, actual radio, actual television. We’ve had clients on everything from Howard Stern to US News and World Report. This is the same process we use. If your audience will be interested in that, I’d be happy to give that as a gift and we could do that at BestSellerPublishing.org/Mitch.
That’s a really generous gift and I appreciate you offering that. I think a lot of people are going to benefit from having access to that entire plan. Thank you so much and I appreciate it. I just want to let everyone to know that I get the pleasure of doing this for you because my mission in life is to give back to entrepreneurs what they have given to me and the guest on my show. If you like what we’re doing here, please go to iTunes, please subscribe and review and let me know how you like the show. Thanks. Take care, Rob.