How To Write a Bestselling Business Book and ChatGPT’s Impact on Publishing
Alinka Rutkowska is the CEO of Leaders Press, a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling press, where she creates books for entrepreneurs from scratch and promotes them to bestseller status with a 100% success rate. She runs a hybrid publishing house with traditional distribution via Simon & Schuster, through which more than 500 entrepreneurs have shared their stories with the world.
Alinka has worked with top business leaders such as Po Chung, Co-founder of DHL International, Mark Nureddine, CEO of Bull Outdoor Products, and Chris Catranis, Founder of Babylon Telecommunications. She has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, the Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast, and numerous other outlets and is on a mission to help 10,000 entrepreneurs share their wisdom with the world by 2030.
Welcome to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen, we feature top entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world, those who bring a global mindset and a unique perspective to their life and business. Now, let’s get started with the show.
David Nilssen 0:23
Hi, David Nilssen here, I’m the host of this podcast. And the intention behind The Future Is Borderless to connect with business leaders from around the world who have what I refer to as a borderless mindset. And this is where we share ideas, best practices, new innovations, things that can be applied to both your personal and professional life, ultimately helping us all to lead and grow in a rapidly changing world. Now this episode is brought to you by Doxa Talent. Doxa Talent helps businesses to source full time dedicated highly skilled workers from all over the world and as a result, these companies can scale faster increase margin and improve culture. To learn more about how Doxa can help you leverage borderless talent, go to doxatalent.com. All right, well, let’s get into the show. My My guest today is Alinka Rutkowska. Alinka is the CEO of Leaders Press which is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best selling press where she creates books for entrepreneurs from scratch, and then launches them into bestseller status. She runs a hybrid publishing house with traditional distribution via Simon Schuster, through which more than 500 entrepreneurs have been able to share their stories. And to date, I believe about 220 of those Leader Press authors have become USA Today and Wall Street Journal best selling authors. As a result, she has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Podcast Entrepreneurs On Fire and numerous other outlets. And she has this mission to help 10,000 entrepreneurs share their wisdom with the world by 2030. And with that Alinka Welcome to The Future Is Borderless.
Alinka Rutkowska 1:57
Thank you so much for having me, David.
David Nilssen 1:59
So this will be fun. I’m 100% certain that there are listeners who have fantasized about writing a book and have no idea where to get started. So I think this will be great for them. Plus, I have this unique perspective because I actually wrote a book in 2012. And I’ve got lots of great ideas that I think I want to share with the world. But having gone through the process, trying to do it by myself. I’m not really sure if that’s something I wanted to take on again. So I’m actually really excited to hear what you have to say today. But maybe you could start by just giving us a bit of context of who you are and how you became the CEO of or built this organization. Like how did this come about?
Alinka Rutkowska 2:41
From passion. I used to work in the corporate world. And after a while, I felt like maybe there’s more to life than just sitting in a cubicle and doing spreadsheets for somebody else. And slowly, slowly, I started realizing that I have more potential than to do that even though I was in big time fast track management program. I was supposed to be one of the future leaders of the big corporation I was in. But it sounds glamorous, but it wasn’t. So I managed to leave, got a pretty good golden parachutes as I took my exit and started traveling around the world, but also discovering what my passion was. And I found out what the self publishing thing was, and published my first book, pretty close to when you published yours. It was the end of 2010 when I did that, and the book had a lot of success. I think it was Beginner’s Luck. The royalties from that book brought me more than I was making in my corporate job, which is nothing you should expect right now. It’s unrealistic. But it did happen for me. And that really got me started and excited about the possibilities. And then when the book was doing so well, I was sharing my marketing methods online. Other authors started reaching out to me asking me if I could do for them what I was doing for myself. That’s how my professional career and publishing started as a request from the market. And then after years of doing custom things, I took some entrepreneurship masterminds and realized that I could package this cool thing. And that’s how Leaders Press was born.
David Nilssen 4:37
Yeah, not surprising to me that and talking to entrepreneurs that you saw this as a an interesting opportunity. Now my understanding is that you are primarily focused on business books, not exclusively, but that seems to be sort of where you’ve carved out your niche. Why do people come to why are they looking to write a book?
Alinka Rutkowska 4:54
The main reasons are to it’s either to grow their business. So they want a lead generation tool on, for example, a podcaster who has a certain audience but has nowhere else to send people to, to get them to opt in for something and to grow their list, or any type of business looking for another avenue to bring clients to their door. A book is a great lead gen magnet because it’s instant gratification. As soon as you sign up, you get it, you can consume it. So you don’t have to wait like, as when you have to for a webinar or seminar or something that you have to fly to even that’s online, but there’s some time period. So these are great, by the way, I enjoy webinars and seminars, but a book, you’re able to satisfy that desire immediately. Then the second main reason why people want to do a book with us is because they want to increase their authority. So they want to become the influencer in their niche. And they might want to get into the speaking circuit, or they might already be in and they might want to start charging more. We have an author who shared with us that’s on the website. When you go to leaderspress.com the first video she says that now that she’s a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best selling author, she charges 25k per speaking gig. Yeah, that’s pretty impressive, fun video to watch, too. And those are the main two reasons why active entrepreneurs want to do books with us. There’s another reason for entrepreneurs who are sort of redirecting their life. Possibly they want to take a break, go on a permanent vacation, but they do want to have a no, do want to share their wisdom with the world, they do want to share either with their family or with their inner inner circle or with the entrepreneurial community at large, what they’ve done, why the lessons they’ve learned. So for example, we did a book for the co-founder of DHL International for DHL 50th anniversary. And that’s really exciting to read. You know who built that company and how it happened. Just great stories, you realize how the person who was initially both the CEO and the courier delivering the packages, doing it all himself, then became a multibillion dollar company. So that’s pretty impressive.
David Nilssen 7:40
Yeah, it’s always fun to hear those stories, too, because I think everybody starts out as chief cook and bottle washer. And then eventually as they scale they take on those new roles, but it is always fun to hear those stories. Why do you think I mean? Again, I said this at the beginning, I happen to spend a lot of time with entrepreneurs and one myself, I don’t know any entrepreneur that has ever said, oh, I’m not interested in writing a book, it’s something that just about everybody feels they have or wants to have a voice or share their story or build their brand. Why do you think people like what holds them back from actually getting that going?
Alinka Rutkowska 8:15
Well internal blocks, like who am I to do this, there are 1000s of books written already. So I think he’s sort of self esteem issues a little bit here. But these can be worked on, I think you should be overcome, because if you don’t have a book, you don’t have a, like, you’re really missing out on market share, because there are people who will come in and because they will read your book or because they will listen to your audiobook because they might not consume other types of media, maybe they’re not on social media where they will consume ads. They’re not reading that particular magazine where you might be running ads, but they are looking for their solutions on Amazon, for example, with their credit card hooked up to the platform. And if you’re answering their question with your book, then you become the go to person to answer more questions that they have. And they will want to work with you.
David Nilssen 9:16
Yeah, that makes total sense. I’m impostor syndrome is real. I hear this all the time. People just it’s not related to just books. But I think in general, a lot of people feel like they have not earned what they have or don’t deserve what they have. Let’s talk about Leaders Press for a second, maybe you can share. It is obviously a hybrid publishing house, you’re helping individuals sort of take that initial idea and actually get it into market, but maybe give us a sense for like, what is the actual problem that you’re solving for them? Why are they coming to you?
Alinka Rutkowska 9:48
The main problem is, or a time or lack thereof, or skill. So I want to have a book I would increase my authority, but I don’t have the time, or I don’t know how to write. Or maybe they do have the time, but they realize that, they have this who not how mentality, they realize that they will produce a much better book, when it’s done by a team of experts, as opposed to writing something that is just so silly. I think and many of our clients agree that it’s just being respectful of the reader, providing them with the best possible writing with the best possible organization. That’s just respect of the author to their audience. And the better the book, the better your image and your brand. And then the more you will achieve through it.
David Nilssen 10:54
Yeah, when I go to your website, you guys have lots of different services that you provide. But let’s pretend that I was one of those individuals that wants the full package, right? Can you walk us through a little bit of the process that you would take me through just to sort of illustrate sort of services you’re providing along the way?
Alinka Rutkowska 11:16
Yeah, we have a pretty wide range. So the main service we have how we got started, is through a book from scratch. So you come in with an idea. Let’s say, you want to write about your expertise in order to bring more people on board, as clients. So we’ll work with you from that idea to your book out and published. It can be either out on Amazon, on online retailers, or through our distribution partnership with Simon and Schuster, we can work on having your book in brick and mortar stores. Then, depending on how ambitious your goals are, we can also work on getting your book on The Wall Street Journal bestseller list. That’s very exciting, then you’re not only able to say that you’re a published author, but a Wall Street Journal best selling author, so that does make a difference. That’s what that video on the main website is about, when you have that accolade you can start charging way more than you are in the past. As an add on, I recommend audiobooks, especially if your goal is to grow your business because there’s a segment of your audience that will only listen. So depending on what service you provide, I think the ROI of having an audiobook of bringing in one or two clients off of it is really high, depending on how your business is set up. I know that for me for our business, it makes a huge difference. Then, we do also marketing for the books, once they’re out, we are a publishing house. But we are able to provide marketing and ongoing marketing after that. And that’s being on podcast, having articles out in various publications, writing articles for the author to promote their book on their own website or LinkedIn, we can really as we say on the headline, you come in with an idea and you leave as a best selling author. So we’ve had people come in being relatively little known in their industries. Now being Wall Street Journal and USA Today best selling authors and so starting to get into the inner circle of people such as Richard Branson, for example. But you can’t do that if you don’t have anything that supports your why, like, why should somebody like that talk to you? Well, because my book where I explain who I am and what I stand for got into the hands of 1000s of people was a number one Wall Street Journal bestseller. That’s why you should consider spending some time with me. So there was a good reason to have those other doors open that then allow you to get to the next level in your career.
David Nilssen 14:40
Yeah, I mean, the credit, online you would call it domain authority, but the authority that comes from being recognized as a thought leader in a particular space, and it’s hard to put a price tag on that. I’m just curious with so many people that you’ve worked with that have become best selling author Thurs like what would you say and I’m not asking to give your trade secrets away. But I, what would you say are like the two or three sort of biggest contributing factors to helping someone to become a best selling author.
Alinka Rutkowska 15:14
You do want to have a good book, meaning the content inside cannot be terrible. You want the book packaged well, because I’ll share with you a shocking insight, people buy the book without reading it first. So they really buy based on the cover, the title, the description, they have not read it. So yes, it can be terrible, because if it’s terrible, then those reviews will be really bad. But it doesn’t have to be a work of art to hit those lists. The books hit those lists, because there’s a huge promotional campaign behind them. They don’t hit the list by chance, oh, I happen to self publish this book and look, the following week, and hit the list now, none of them maybe 0.00000 keep going 000 1%. Maybe happened once in the history of those lists doesn’t happen. There are there are teams of people responsible for marketing that material. And those teams know that if they do that for a book that’s bad, that’s poor in terms of writing, then obviously, that will hit, it won’t get the accolade but it will be ruined in the review. So you don’t want to do that you need to have a decent quality book. But people hit the list because of the marketing behind it, not because of the quality of the writing, they win awards, because of the quality of the writing. But they hit the list and get into the hands of other readers because of the marketing behind it.
David Nilssen 17:00
Yeah, that makes total sense to me. In fact, it’s funny, if I were to show you the side table next to my bed, there’s about 15 books stacked there that I have perfect intentions of reading, but I believe there’s 15 experts sitting there, so I haven’t even read the books, but I already have this perspective that they are experts in their fields. So tell me about like how you guys differentiate? I mean, clearly there are other companies that help people write books. What is it that you guys think you do specifically well, or how do you differentiate against your competitors?
Alinka Rutkowska 17:31
Right. We guarantee bestseller status. So when we do a Wall Street Journal campaign, we are 100% guarantee that. So there’s no risk on the author side, and all the stress and risk is on us. And we’ve managed to get 220 authors on the USA Today or Wall Street Journal bestseller list. So we know what we’re doing. But every time it is a bit stressful. So that’s a key differentiator. No other publishing house 100% guarantees you that we do then we have a distribution partnership with Simon and Schuster. So when you publish through Leaders Press, you will also have the Simon and Schuster logo on your copyright page when you decide to go through the traditional channel, which is a possibility. And we are also a better deal financially if you want to get into those specifics and start comparing. Because we feel that we’re able to deliver what we deliver and what others deliver at a better quality and a better price. So those are our key three differentiators.
David Nilssen 18:49
I love the fact that you guys have this catalytic mechanism, if you guarantee a result, right, that puts a little pressure on the person that’s providing the service to most companies wouldn’t be willing to do that. So I actually think that’s very strong. Let’s shift a little bit to just sort of trends that are happening externally. But we’re sort of living through the digitization of the world at the moment. Like, I happen to still be sort of old school I like to hold a book I like to write in a book, but so many people are moving to digital formats, and they’re consuming a lot of content outside of books themselves. Like how do you see books playing a part in our future?
Alinka Rutkowska 19:28
I don’t think they’re going away. If you think about 1000s of years ago, we had the first books on clay tablets, or other paper the first types of paper that were out there and they were trendy then and they’re still now and I really don’t think they’re going anyway. Just like you said you like the paper the touch of it, the sound of it, maybe the smell of it like I do. This is gonna stay even if more getting more and more digital people read on their phones, like, I’m not gonna comment on that. But there will be more reading that way. And the paper will stay as well, there’s just more means of the same thing we taught, we spoke about audiobooks. So still a book, you still have to write it first. Otherwise, it’s going to be a podcast, and the density that you get is not the same. So there’s much more thought and work in organization that goes into a book, I guess, you said at the beginning, that into podcasts and podcasts is fantastic, because it’s now like, you have the latest and greatest, almost instantly, a book is going to go through the publishing process, it’s going to take a while. So from the moment that you write this original thought to the moment is out, the thought might not be so original anymore. But so you want to be doing both. But the book is the thing that will really position you as the authority. So I don’t think books are going to disappear, for sure not authors will continue benefiting from the authority the book provides and readers, the audience will also continue to get that the most dense, so to speak, in quality, the most possibly compact way of receiving information. And also, kids are still learning to read at school. So I don’t think that’s going anywhere.
David Nilssen 21:49
That’s true. They don’t learn cursive anymore, though. So that’s funny. I my four and a five year old, no surprises, I was talking to one of the teachers that that’s not something they’re teaching anymore, but I guess it makes sense, since we’re typing all the time. But let’s go along those lines a little bit further. So we talked about digitization, but there are new technologies that are coming out all the time right now, ChatGPT is a very exciting tool that people are really getting. They’re excited about. But if you brought that to just AI in general, I mean, there’s a lot that AI can do in the future. Do you think that will fundamentally change your industry, your business? And do you fear that or do you embrace that?
Alinka Rutkowska 22:30
I think it will change the industry, I don’t think it will fundamentally change it, but it will certainly change it. And we’re embracing it, we’re not fearing it. It’s really exciting. We want to be the leading publisher who embraces this technology. And we already have two main team members having meetings like with the people who can tell us how to handle copyright, all that what what can be protected, what cannot what has to happen for us to be able to slap an author’s name on a book when we work with AI. So these are conversations and meetings we’re having this week, well, now, this technology just came out, and we want to start incorporating it into our services. So we have a project right now where we will be doing a book internally and as soon as that’s done, and we have a prototype, we’ll be able to offer this to our clients. So we’re very excited about it. And you need to embrace the technology or else you’re just going to be left behind. I don’t think this is a fad. It’s not like the new pink that everybody has to wear it out. It’s gonna go away in a couple of months. This is not going anywhere. It’s just gonna stay. So we need to learn to embrace it. And as you beautifully said.
David Nilssen 24:02
Yeah, learn to coexist. Well, let’s transition to you as a leader. Again, our audience are business owners, leaders, just curious I always say that everyone has their superpower and I’m curious what is yours?
Alinka Rutkowska 24:21
I believe I’m good at being a visionary. So putting together the cool services, understanding what the market wants, meeting their needs, and sort of seeing a little bit into the future. I’m also not too in love with an idea that might not be a good one. So I’m more of a go fast, fail fast mentality. I will put together let’s say 10 types of services, half of them will fail miserably. And I’m fine next, next next, because a couple of them will just go well, that will be writing that way for years. But I need a team around me to implement that, which I have right now. I started from scratch right now we’re 40 people. So it’s starting to be only almost magic, when during a team meeting, I will say, come up with an idea. And the team will just run with it. And then the next team meeting, I already forgot, I have that idea. And we already implemented it, and it’s working. Yeah, that’s pretty great. I mean, then also, sometimes they will say, they will slow me down and say that we need to follow the process. But that’s sort of like, earth to me in the clouds. But it’s great. So I can see that that’s my strength. And being surrounded by the right people. It does work.
David Nilssen 26:05
Yeah. Well, tell me a little bit about your team. Are you guys in an office? Are you remote, are domestic International, like how are you guys structured?
Alinka Rutkowska 26:13
We’re global virtual company, so we’re on three continents. Everybody in their own space. So it’s very exciting, when COVID head and people couldn’t move anymore, move around anymore. The first feedback we got was, wow, you adapted so quickly, are so well organized, everything is working? Well, that’s how we started, we never had an office, which, sometimes I feel could be really exciting to have, but we don’t, we try to stay together through other initiatives. We have a space online where we can all be together, we all connect through a sports app. So we all registered sporty activities that we do every day and have a challenge, see who does more. So a way to connect outside we do around us when we hang out, though, there’s no business talk. So we do a lot of things for this to be like a community. And now that we’ve learned to hire better, and fire faster when necessary. And to do all these team building activities, I feel like I’m really, really happy with the team feel like we have a really strong 40 people behind this.
David Nilssen 27:37
That’s awesome. It’s funny, this is something that I’m actually very passionate about. I’ve two businesses, approximately 600 employees and no office whatsoever. And it was hard because we went from a centralized environment in Seattle to now, similarly, three continents and in trying to build culture and shift to a completely remote environment, when you don’t do it from scratch is very difficult. And right now, so many entrepreneurs are struggling with like, do I bring people back to the office? Do I lean into this full remote do I try to do both simultaneously in this hybrid environment, and people are really struggling with that. So it’s great that you’ve got a recipe that’s helping you to build community because clearly that is so important. I know we’re getting close to the end of our time, but I wanted to just ask you one more question. And it’s related to just you as a leader. I’ve found that most CEOs, at least really good CEOs have both a dose of humility, but are also lifelong learners. So tell me what is the number one way that you invest in yourself and what are you trying to do amplify or improve today.
Alinka Rutkowska 28:45
I’ve always invested in some sort of masterminding or coaching. So I belong to add on five or six entrepreneurial groups throughout the years. And I still stick with a couple. I also hired one of the top people in publishing to be part of our team as a strategic advisor. So we’re learning from him every day. Just very, very exciting. What I want to amplify, learn more from the networks that I’m part of, and we’re more of what we’re doing. I put together a vision board for the new year. And when you look at it, it’s really amplifying the things that I already have going on. So it’s a testament to the fact that I’m really excited about the universe that I created for myself. And I want to go in deeper and amplify that. If you want specifics I think just getting better and better in terms of serving our clients. As you’re growing, there’s organizational stuff going on. So we’re working on initiatives to delight our clients further and further, I read a great book that came out recently. And it was all about, how to become the best in class. And that’s what we’re after. So I think that that’s the main focus really, operations are my main focus for this year.
David Nilssen 30:37
Yeah, I think the best in class customer experience will never go out of favor. So we’ll leave it there. All right. Well, we’ve been listening to Alinka Rutkowska, the CEO of Leaders Press. Alinka, where can people go to learn more about the work that you do?
Alinka Rutkowska 30:53
The best place to go to is leaderspress.com. There’s a really funny video of one of our authors in Miami at a Book Awards contest. You want to see what she’s saying. You can also go through a quiz there, where you can find out what type of book you should write. Piggybacking on how we started this podcast today, so leaderspress.com.
David Nilssen 31:19
Awesome. All right, and we’ll leave that in the show notes for everyone there. Thanks again for being on the show today.
Alinka Rutkowska 31:24
Thank you so much for having me, David.
Thank you for listening to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen. Be sure to click subscribe to future episodes so you can hear from more top entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and we’ll see you again next time.