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Alinka Rutkowska Of Leaders Press On How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book

There is no better way to market yourself as a subject matter expert than to have the physical evidence of your accumulated wisdom packaged in one, easy-to-reach place.

As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alinka Rutkowska.

Alinka Rutkowska is the CEO of Leaders Press (www.leaderspress.com), a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling press, where she creates books for entrepreneurs from scratch and launches them to best-sellers with a 100% success rate.

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 with the world. 133 of Leaders Press authors have become USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling authors.

Alinka has been featured by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Entrepreneurs on Fire and numerous other outlets.
Her mission is to help 10,000 entrepreneurs share their wisdom with the world by 2030.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?

Well, for some context, I am the founder and acting CEO of Leaders Press, a seven-figure business in the publishing industry. The initial idea for Leaders Press was really born out of a combination of two of my passions: entrepreneurship and books. Prior to founding a company, I had a pretty well-decorated history in the corporate world, where I worked in multinational corporations. But after a while, I realized that I just couldn’t continue in that space. I couldn’t see myself pursuing a future like that; I found that it was too constricting for me personally. So at a very convenient point, I decided to leave — actually, my company at the time paid me severance to do so.

From there, I had the luxurious opportunity to travel the world for a year and figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life. After some reflection, I realized that what I was really passionate about was writing, selling and distributing books. And I began doing just that, documenting the whole process on social media as I learned and grew. Eventually, people started asking me, ‘Hey, can you do this for my book?’ So I started doing it for their books too. For most of it, I was a one-woman show, a solopreneur. But then at a certain point, I went to a mastermind that changed everything for me. It was a mastermind in London, led by Dean Jackson. During the seminar he asked, ‘What is the highest value thing you could do for your customer? Don’t worry about the money, just what could you do that would be of the highest value for them?’ And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, if I could only just help these people with their books from scratch!” People would come to me asking for help with marketing, and their books were not positioned correctly. They had terrible titles and covers. Their Amazon pages were in need of serious repair. The list went on and on.

As a result, I had to ask them to make a lot of changes before I could even begin working with them. So I thought, ‘What if I could be there from the beginning to help them position the book so that it stands out, then bring in a team to interview the entrepreneur and actually write it for them and then come back and help them market it?’ In essence, a full turnkey book process.

After that, I had to determine who my target audience was going to be. Luckily, that part didn’t require too much strenuous thinking; it was obvious to me that it would be entrepreneurs because I’ve always loved entrepreneurship. Now all I needed was a name. It came to me that I was looking to work specifically with leaders of the industry, people who were looked up to in whatever their specialty or niche might be. Thus, it would be a publishing house specifically dedicated to leaders. And that’s how Leaders Press came to fruition in 2017.

Fast forward four years, and we now have a thriving seven-figure business with over 30 people on the team and more than 100 authors on the USA Today, Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, and a distribution partnership with Simon and Schuster.

Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?

Hmm… a point of major transition in my career occurred after I made the decision to go from being a solopreneur to an entrepreneur. That was, uncoincidentally, when I went to the mastermind in London in 2017, with Dean Jackson. Up until that point, I had thought of my projects with books simply as a means to generate income, but not necessarily as a bonafide career or business model. That mastermind gave the me courage and insight necessary to branch out on my own and begin the fledgling formation of what was to eventually become Leaders Press. Working with, and designing a team from scratch has been tremendously valuable for me, both as business leader and an individual. Our journey has truly been a fantastic one, and it never would have gotten off the ground if it was for the inspiring and encouraging words of another master entrepreneur.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?

Yes, we do these really exciting anthologies every now and then, that we launch with the aim of hitting the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. In early 2021 we’ve had QUITLESS hit the WSJ and USA Today lists, followed soon after by Habit of Success, and Success Mindsets. These publications were done in tandem (e.g. at the same time) with the single manuscripts that we’ve launched also launched to great success for our authors. Right now we’re working on another anthology called Game On: Leaders Who Last that will come out in Q1 of 2022. That’s something I’m very excited about because it’s very relevant to the current times. So, we’ll learn what it takes to be a leader who’s able to thrive through turbulent global conditions (like economic recessions and pandemics). Another interesting project that we’ve got going on, it’s more of an internal project. And that’s something that we’re doing within an organization that I belong to called Genius Network. It’s a 55-day challenge, where every day we come up with a new way to delight our clients. And this is super exciting! We’re about 10 days in and just looking at the ideas that we have, it’s pretty amazing. Ultimately, these will be 55 new ideas that we will implement within our company operations so that our clients reply, wow, when we deliver these to them. So I’m really looking forward to the results of that.

Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?

Well, if I were to choose the main book for our business, that would be Outsource Your Book. And what it does is provide a detailed explanation of how an entrepreneur can outsource each element of the book creation process, and where to go to outsource it. It also provides an approximate you need to invest if you want to outsource each specific component of the book creation process, and what that would cost if you have to manage the whole endeavor as yourself. Allowing you to outsource the full book process is what we do at Leaders Press. The authors we work with are usually CEOs and presidents of companies with many years of experience. I created this book as a tool for both lead generation and lead conversion. Essentially, what I explain, and what we do at Leaders Press, is we help entrepreneurs create a book that will do the same for their businesses.

You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Hmm, if I had to define three characteristics instrumental to successful entrepreneurship I would say they would be persistence, habits and mindset. One example of persistence with Leaders Press came about in finding our distributor, Simon & Schuster. I had been searching for the right partner for Leaders Press for the better part of a year by that point, and I had three or four companies that I was speaking with. I did a plethora of research on each one, and took meetings often with them… but every time I thought about pulling the trigger, something just didn’t feel right. I knew that more than anything, I didn’t want to settle. So, I reached out to Simon and Schuster to look for this type of partnership through the official channels. Well, nobody replied. Rather than just calling it a loss, I started a sort of guerilla campaign, so to speak. I reached out to a myriad of Simon Schuster employees and got them to introduce me to the person who knew the person that I needed to talk to. After some crafty networking, I eventually landed a meeting and it was really quick. It was like love at first sight. Once I got to the person responsible for the decision, it really only took about two meetings, and a couple of reviews of the agreement for us to say ‘Okay, this is a great partnership for both parties.’ So that’s number one: persistence.

The next is habits. Habits are essential in running a successful business and I’ve got a few of them that I know have made a huge impact on my own life. The first of which is time blocking, or blocking out chunks of time to do specific tasks. I have a morning segment, which is dedicated to my morning routine. Then I have an organizational segment, which is when I look at my calendar and organize what I’m going to do within the time that I have available that day. Then I have a segment when I talk to my executive assistant and discuss things that need to be followed up on and completed. I have a segment for meetings. I have a segment for emails, I have a segment for mass emails. I have a segment blocked off for lunch. I have lots of different segments, lots of specific chunks of time carved out of my day. This way I’m able to be very efficient with my time and ensure that it’s being protected and used intentionally. How is my time protected? I don’t meet with people I don’t need to meet with. I have a whole team that takes care of our clients’ needs, of our potential partners’ needs. I don’t allow for disruptions. There’s no room in my schedule for somebody to call me whenever they want and just to eat up my time. And I’ve found that I have to set these habits very firmly, otherwise I’m not able to be productive.

And then the third character trait is the mindset. My mindset is definitely what you might call a “can do” mindset; if I dream it, I know that I can achieve it. There’s plenty of quotes like that and I use them as mantras and reminders of what I am capable of. I have the vision for the company, and it’s my job is to transmit this vision to my team every single day. And this is what I do at every meeting. I meet with my direct reports every week, some of them every day, and make sure that they know where we’re going and that everyone is rowing in the same direction. Everyone on my team has to be of the same mindset, we have to believe in the Leaders Press values, and our own inherent capabilities.

In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?

So, Outsource Your Book, which you can find on Amazon and you can also download a free copy when you go to leaders press.com is our lead generation book. Quite honestly, before we published this one our sales calls were…well let’s just say they were pretty tough. The problem was that we really needed to explain who we are and why people should be interested to work with us. Now, however, we have a tool on Amazon, a book that attracts clients to us! One of the clients that we’ve attracted thus far was the co-founder of DHL International. He found our book on Amazon, since it’s a lead generation book, and followed the link to my calendar. He booked a call and from there we helped him publish a book entitled Designed to Win, which was written to celebrate DHL’s 50th anniversary. So how exciting is that? We would have never been able to reach the co-founder of DHL international through our regular outreach because he has so many gatekeepers around him. The only way we could have attracted him was by having a way for him to find us, and that’s what Outsource Your Book accomplished for us. So another reason why it’s so great that we have this book, is that we ask our potential authors, or candidates let’s call them, to read the book before we talk to them about potential cooperation. And once they’ve read it, the conversation is on a completely different level. Because they already know what we’re about, and they only have questions about their specific situation. It really increases the quality of conversations that we have, and it’s been a phenomenal way to get our prospects into our world and to convert them to clients.

If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?

A lot of our authors feel this way, and they worry about the financial cost of writing (or ghostwriting) a book and wonder whether it’s worth the “risk”. To those people I would say, in this day in age, writing a book is like having a great business card: it’s going to pay for itself multiple times over. Becoming a number one best-selling author has taken some of our clients far beyond the reach of what their already fruitful network could have done. Many of them have appeared on popular news media like Forbes, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, you name it. And it all started with a book. The fact is, writing a book is a big job, and there’s a reason people around the world continue to respect the craft and the people that can do it. That being said, pound for pound, I truly think there is no better way to market yourself as a subject matter expert than to have the physical evidence of your accumulated wisdom packaged in one, easy-to-reach place.

Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?

Some authors want to write the entire book themselves, they have a burning desire to do it and are willing to set aside the time and resources to see that goal through. That’s wonderful! But not everyone can afford that kind of commitment. So, I think the first step in writing a book is deciding whether you want to author it yourself or use the services of a hybrid publisher, like Leaders Press, to have someone ghostwrite it for you. The benefit of having someone else write the manuscript is that takes a tremendous burden off of our authors. The source material, wisdom and leadership strategies are all still their own, but they don’t have to worry about the stress of putting together 50k+ words. We do the hard part. Beyond that, I think some fields within the publishing world should always be delegated to experts. Things like editing, marketing, SEO title optimization, etc. are things that I would highly recommend an author seek professional counsel on. They are very niche and also very important to the publishing process, and unless you’re familiar with the world of publishing, you could run into some problems trying to do it on your own.

Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Absolutely, so here are my five keys: 1.) Define your target audience. I’ll give you an example. I told you about the book that Leaders Press used to really start making headway, Outsource Your Book. Think about the title for a moment… who was my audience? It’s not writers. There is a myriad of books about writing for writers; this isn’t one of them. It’s for entrepreneurs who want to outsource their book, and I’m very clear about it. The subtitle is also exceptionally clear: it says “Your guide to getting your business book ghostwritten published and launched.” So you can see how specific I am about my target audience. I’m after business people who want to get their book out without actually having to write it. Very, very specific. 2.) Find competing titles. You need to know what your competing titles are. Your book needs to simultaneously fit in and stand out. Outsource Your Book was very different. It was clear from the jump who it was for, and while it fits in, it also drastically stood out. 3.) Optimize your Amazon sales page. So on Amazon, you need to have things set up really really well. Great cover great title, and there’s a whole methodology of creating a great title and description that is well-formatted with different font sizes. That, combined with excellent copywriting to make the reader of the description want to buy your book a healthy number of editorial reviews. Those are very important. You want those from some well-known names or as well-known as you can collect. Amazon reviews are also critically important. That’s for social proof. So that’s the third part. 4.) You need a funnel. Once somebody buys your book, what is the action that you want them to take? So in my books, there’s either a subtle or not so subtle way for people to continue their adventure with me. They can either click on a link and get on my calendar or click on a link and subscribe for something. From there, I can offer them my services. So there needs to be a clear call to action. If you’re a fiction author and you don’t have other services, then that call to action would be for people to go to your website, and download a free novella for example. And then you have your readers’ email address and you can sell them your other books. 5.) Traffic. Once you have the previous four parts set up, you need a way to drive traffic to your book. So if you’re using Amazon as the main vehicle to get your book out, you can set up Amazon ads. In my experience, the most successful people, the ones who have done really well with Amazon ads, are the ones that do those themselves. I don’t do my ads myself. I have a business to run, but the people who don’t really run businesses, that are strictly focused on selling their books… I have seen some exceptional success when they run the ads themselves. Other ways of driving traffic are, of course, paid traffic or other types of advertising or giveaways, swaps, joint venture, guerilla campaigns etc. So those are the five things I’d say an author needs to know to successfully promote and market their book.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

That would have to be Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach. He also does a podcast called TEDx talk with Joe Polish. I’ve just recently discovered Dan and he is so exceptionally smart and has the type of mindset that I want to have at 75. He has accumulated exceptional wisdom to help entrepreneurs move forward in a smart way. I love to have a private breakfast or lunch with him because he could give me some great ideas about my business. And you know, I like to surround myself with people that I want to become more like and Dan is definitely one of them. The book Who Not How has really inspired me and is basically the definitive blueprint of how and why you need to stay in your genius zone. So if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re busy running your business, that’s your genius zone. That’s what you need to be doing. Not taking on a new project of discovering how to write a book, edit and format a book. Nor, how to get a good cover and where to publish it and how to market it and how to bestseller status. That’s a full-time job — and one that Leaders Press has optimized. So, Dan Sullivan is the person I’d love to have a private breakfast or lunch with.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best way to do so is to go to leaderspress.com/quiz and see which type of book is the book that is most aligned with your goals and that would serve you best! That will allow us to connect and give you the opportunity to get all the newest information about the publishing industry and about some amazing books coming out.

www.leaderspress.com

Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.

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