Alinka Rutkowska | How to Hit Bestseller Status with Your Book and Make an Impact

Alinka Rutkowska is the CEO of Leaders Press, a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling press. The company creates books for entrepreneurs from scratch and launches them to bestseller status with a 100% success rate. The Leaders Press team has worked with top business leaders such as Po Chung (the co- founder of DHL International), Mark Nureddine (the CEO of Bull Outdoor Products) and Chris Catranis (the founder of Babylon Telecommunications). Their mission is to help 1,000 entrepreneurs share their wisdom with the world by 2030.

Alinka has sold more than 100,000 copies of her books and her book creation process has been showcased in Entrepreneur magazine. She has also been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox Business, Writer’s Digest, Alliance of Independence Authors, International Book Publishers’ Association, and many more. She is an official member of the Forbes Business Council. 

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran sits down with Alinka Rutkowska, the CEO of Leaders Press, to find out how writers can achieve bestseller status and make an impact through their books. Alinka shares her story about writing and self-publishing her first book, how she got into the book marketing business, and how she currently helps other writers publish their books and reach bestseller status.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Alinka Rutkowska talks about self-publishing her first book and the subsequent books she wrote
  • How Alinka got her big break in marketing books and how she set up Leaders Press
  • Why Alinka uses ghostwriters to write books for her clients and the challenges she has faced in delegating work and managing a growing team
  • What writers should do beyond books if they don’t depend on royalties 
  • How Alinka’s book funnel looks like, how it works, and how writers can make money on the back-end
  • The differences between Amazon, USA Today and New York Times bestseller status and how to achieve them
  • Why writers should have their books in brick and mortar bookstores
  • The people Alinka admires in her industry and those she acknowledges for her achievements and success

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:10  

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran  0:40  

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And you guys know my story. I’m a recovering political hack, recovering lawyer, spent years working in politics, including as a speechwriter, with stints working in the Clinton White House and for a California Governor. I’ve spent years also practicing law and 10 years ago, I discovered this medium where I get to talk to smart individuals, entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, you name it, and I’ve been doing it ever since because over 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of talking with so many amazing individuals from top CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs of companies and organizations ranging from YPO to Activision Blizzard, Lendingtree, you name it. I’m also the co-founder of Rise25, where we help b2b businesses with the strategy and production they need to create a podcast and content marketing that produces tremendous ROI and connects them with their ideal prospects, and referral partners. 

And we’re excited today, my guest is Alinka Rutkowska. Alinka is the CEO of Leaders Press. It’s a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best selling press. They help individuals to create books from scratch and help them to launch them to bestseller status. They have a 100% success rate. So we’ll ask her about that. And she’s worked with all kinds of top business leaders from Po Chung, the co-founder of DHL International, Mark Nureddine, I think I’m saying that correctly, the CEO of Bull Outdoor Products, and a bunch of others. Their releases have landed on bookshelves, together with Nobel Prize winners and World Economic Forum speakers. And her mission is to help 1,000 entrepreneurs share their wisdom with the world by 2030. And so we’re gonna launch into her story and how she got into this. 

But first, before we get into that this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. If you’re listening to this you’ve ever thought Yes, should I do a podcast? I’ve been saying yes. For many years, this is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I get to talk to smart people like Alinka here today and get my questions asked and answered, which is wonderful. 

So Alinka, let’s hop over to you. I’m super excited to talk to you about this. We’ve chatted many times before but never had the opportunity to interview you before. So how does one get started with helping other people to write books? What was the first story? We were joking about it beforehand, because I asked you about it. You said I didn’t really want to talk about it. So that just piqued my interest. So what was the first book …you got involved in writing books?

Alinka Rutkowska  3:02  

John, I’m excited to be here. Yeah, the best thing to say is I don’t want to talk about it. And then that’s when the questions start coming. In my first book. I wrote it over a decade ago, and I was working in the corporate world at the time. And I just felt like I reached some sort of glass ceiling and didn’t feel like that was the place where I belonged. So I wrote this book. It was a self improvement book. I think I wrote it for myself because I was going through some sort of quarter life crisis. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about the book. The book actually started selling really well. And it made me more in royalties than my corporate salary.

John Corcoran  3:46  

So that that is really impressive. Yeah. Was it? Did you traditionally publish it? Or is it through Amazon?

Alinka Rutkowska  3:51  

No, I self published it. That was the first time I heard about self publishing. When my colleague told me about it. He actually mentioned Tim Ferriss, he said, You know, there’s this guy who does all these crazy things, like he goes to Argentina and wins a tango competition. And you know, he just danced for 15 minutes. And thank you. So publishing these books, I’m like, why do you self publish? I don’t need a gatekeeper. I don’t need anybody’s permission. When I first heard about that, you know, I just got super excited because it’s the entrepreneurial spirit in me, you know, I didn’t have to ask anybody to allow me to do it. I just went for it. And since I had a marketing background, I studied business. I worked in marketing departments and big corporations. So I had this, you know, leverage, I have this advantage that I used. And I also think there was an element of luck in it. And so that got me really excited. I thought, you know, big corporation, I don’t need you anymore. I can, you know, take care of myself on my own right now. And it is naive to believe that you could, you know, to live off of the royalties of one book forever, but

John Corcoran  4:59  

the bride Peters down eventually. 

Alinka Rutkowska  5:02  

So yeah, does later on. Yes, but I didn’t know that.

John Corcoran  5:05  

Yeah. So you do have any other service or coaching or consulting or anything like that. That was okay. Got it. Okada first. So what did you do in that gap? Then when the ROI is they started to Peter off? Did you write another book?

Alinka Rutkowska  5:22  

Yes, I started writing more books, I was playing with the genres a little bit, I was a new mom. So I wrote children’s books, picture books, I had interesting work and experience with those, I sold a lot in China, I sold foreign rights there. So you’ll find an amazing agreement with a Chinese publisher, you know, when there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of them in China. So when they publish, you know, they print a lot of copies. So that was a huge break. For me, that was really, really good. At a certain point, I published how I sold 80,000 books. And that put me in the spotlight as a book marketing expert. And that was, you know, one of those moments when I felt like I reached the next level. And then there were many more. But I think that was an important one, you know, that first book on my subject matter. That’s when things started happening.

John Corcoran  6:18  

Was that book designed to get clients to help them to write books?

Alinka Rutkowska  6:24  

No, not yet. Not at first. So it was a process that was more to help people market their own books. So it was more for the self published writer at that time, and that was 2015. And I don’t remember if I had a course there, I don’t think I had a course yet, or something to monetize. I did. Some guys started with some coaching. But then eventually, I learned to, you know, put together the whole funnel. So I had the course and I had the coaching. And then I had the summit. And then eventually, I went to a mastermind in London, with Dean Jackson. And there was a question that he asked us, what could be the number, what could be the biggest value that you could offer to your customer? If you didn’t have to worry about the price point? So don’t don’t worry about what your service would cost? Just what would you offer that would be so valuable? And that answer will solve all their problems. And I thought that would be if I could help them from the beginning. Because you know, when people would come to me with their books, and they wanted me to market them, I had to ask them to make a lot of changes, because they were not, you know, the title they weren’t the cover was terrible. The description, you know, was not attractive. So there were a lot of foundational elements that needed to be changed. But I thought, how about I helped them from the start. And then we narrowed it down to business people and entrepreneurs, and put together Leaders Press, that’s where it was born. That’s where I bought the URL in London, at that mastermind. And I remember Dean said, “I can’t believe this hasn’t been taken”. So there. Yeah, so got my $10 or whatever domain. And that’s how we got started helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into bestsellers.

John Corcoran  8:20  

And was the plan from the beginning to build out a team to write these books? Or was it something where you kind of realized after a little while that Geez, I got, you know, I’m going to spread myself too thin. If I’m the one writing all these books,

Alinka Rutkowska  8:37  

I knew I would never write them myself. So I always knew I would get Ghost Riders on board to help me and that I would be there at the beginning for the strategy. And then let that’s the first book that we did. I did the interviews with the entrepreneur. That was the first and last time I started getting help, you know, started building my team. And then I never wrote a single book for my clients and always got ghost riders to do that. And then I would come back for the launch of the book. And as we started growing, I know we started building our team. So now we have a bunch of interviewers, interviewers and ghost writers and project managers or marketing, marketing people. So we’ve grown. I have to delegate, I get to delegate a lot of the tasks that I’m good at, but my time is better spent doing other things. And that’s a challenge in itself.

John Corcoran  9:32  

So what if some of the big challenges has been for you as you’ve figured out what pieces to delegate and what pieces to keep on your plate and how to manage a growing team?

Alinka Rutkowska  9:42  

You know, I think there’s a big ego element. You know, when you think of marketing, I think of myself as the marketing person, like, I’m the marketing genius. And, you know, at a certain point, I have to just step back and teach my team members what I’ve learned, but also let them step in. Begin with what they know, you know, what’s what they’ve learned elsewhere and let them take over. So there’s that for sure, you know, not able to refer to myself, as, you know, the marketing mastermind here. Although I still have a big impact on that. Another thing I think is, you know, letting people into my personal accounts, like, you know, my email provider, I still respond to my email myself, like, nobody’s in my inbox yet. But I had a, you know, hard time giving those passwords and logins away so that people could manage my accounts. But it is something that needs to be done or, you know, otherwise, I would, you know, I wouldn’t be able to, to run this business like,

John Corcoran  10:48  

it’s like I say, all the time, you know, your biggest skill eventually becomes your biggest bottleneck, because the thing that you’re good at is the last thing you want to give up. And then it’s what holds you back. You know, I realized I should really take a step backwards, because at the beginning of this conversation, you said, you know, you can’t just depend on a book for royalties. But I know there’s a lot of people out there who think I’m gonna write a book, I’m just gonna get a bunch of royalties, I can just sit back, put my feet up, right? So if you’re not depending on a book for royalties, and talk to us a little more about why to do a book and how to leverage it.

Alinka Rutkowska  11:22  

Right. So I have a funny story related to what you just said, I was at a conference and one of the attendees asked me, related to my USA Today best selling status. Yes. When you become a USA Today, bestselling author, do you become a millionaire? And I said, You know what, these are two separate projects. One of them is you do something to become a millionaire, then the other one is the USA Today, people often spend more money than they make for royalties to get on those lists. So what to look at, if not, at royalties why I figured out pretty early on in my career that, you know, you need to have something beyond books. And so now I make sure that we have a funnel in every book that we publish, and also for our clients. So very often, we need to educate them a little bit explaining to them that you know, when you when we do your book inside, there’s going to be a link to either your landing page or to a quiz or maybe to a calendar, where people can continue their relationship with you. And so we’ve managed to put that in every single book, except for one, the book that we did for the co-founder of DHL International, he said, I’m not interested in building my business. billion-dollar business. So yeah, I think he’s good. They’re fine. Yeah, exactly.

John Corcoran  12:53  

And what does that funnel look like? I mean, it could be as simple as just, you know, here’s a, here’s my website, or here’s my email address, or does it need to be more sophisticated? Or does it vary?

Alinka Rutkowska  13:06  

Yeah, so it can be more or less elegant, I guess. And how I sold it 1000 books, we have a sort of in your face page, which says free video training go here, link. So it’s pretty, pretty visible, and outsource your book, which is, you know, our lead gen lead conversion book for Leaders Press. We, it’s more subtle, that we don’t have the big in your face ad, we actually say something along these lines. At Leaders Press, we take care of everything for you. Go to to have us take you and your idea under our wing, and that’s within the text of the book. And you know, we say it a couple of times, so that, you know people can at a certain point, say okay, now, right, do it for me.

John Corcoran  13:59  

Right? And you just do it to the point where At what point do you know that you can lose money on the book in order and make it on the back end? And now how do you figure out that calculus? I mean, do you run ads to give away as many copies of the books as possible? How do you figure that all out? Or maybe that’s a much longer discussion around advertising books?

Alinka Rutkowska  14:21  

Yeah, it’s a longer discussion. We also have traditional distribution. So when we work with a distributor, they obviously want to sell books. Yeah, we want to sell physical copies. We have print runs, we have inventory, so we need to make sure we actually sell but for business owners, I would, I would give away books as much as possible. I have a 10-minute talk. That’s entitled, how you can turn what you already know into a quarter million dollars or more, and I’ve talked to a couple of entrepreneurs who made Quarter per million dollars or more like 1 million or more through their book, and only one of them did it through royalties, all the others did it through the back end. So whatever they are selling, and you know, it’s the book that gets into the right hands. And, you know, the reader realizes that they actually want to work with the author, because they are the authority on the subject, they wrote the book. And, you know, they want to work with them to get their problem solved.

John Corcoran  15:32  

Right, right. And you mentioned, your bestseller status. break that down for us, what’s what’s the state of the art for that now, because I know a lot of people who’ve achieved bestseller status. I also know people who spend a lot of money and didn’t hit the bestseller list that they wanted to

Alinka Rutkowska  15:49  

write. So the two types of bestseller status are Amazon bestseller status. And then there are the big lists like USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Amazon bestseller status is pretty easy to achieve. He only needs to hit number one for one hour on Amazon. And you can claim it’s, it changes every hour, you need to find the right category, you need to sell more than one book. Because Amazon now has some sort of threshold that you need to sell, actually to sell some copies for them to give away that bad. But basically, there’s 1000s of categories. And they change and the number one book changes every hour, or rather, the algorithm recalculates everything every hour, so you have a chance at hitting that status every hour. Whereas the big list, for example, USA Today, he only has 150 slots a week. So that’s for the 150 top selling books in the US that week. Usually, to hit the USA Today list, you need to sell 6000 books in that week. When you hit the USA Today list, you will almost always hit the wall street journalist as well, because that probably requires about 3000 sales a week. And then there’s New York Times New York Times has an editorial list. So that means that you might have the sales and be number one on the USA Today list. And York Times might not showcase you if they don’t like you. Or if they don’t like your publisher, they might say thanks. But no thanks. You’re not going to be a New York Times bestseller.

John Corcoran  17:31  

So range you would think it’s objective, which is not known

Alinka Rutkowska  17:35  

So that’s why we never can, so we guarantee USA Today bestseller, because we know how to achieve those sales. But we cannot guarantee New York Times because it’s an editorial list,

John Corcoran  17:47  

huh? Yeah, yeah, that’s crazy. I’ve heard stories about people who have, you know, hit certain lists and not the new, like, really high numbers and still didn’t hit the New York Times list. If I want to ask about it, we’re running a little short on time. But I do want to ask about what is the point these days of brick and mortar bookstores, you know, especially we’re recording this January 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, and so, you know, people aren’t going to bookstores right now. But what is the point is still being in bookstores.

Alinka Rutkowska  18:20  

So right now, it’s a no bit of a weird time, but I’m pretty sure we’re gonna open up the bookstores and other brick and mortar facilities and a matter of months. And, you know, it reads, so there’s this person that might be in the bookstore and will see your book and read your book and click on your link and then do business with you because they saw your book in the bookstore. And, you know, depending on what your business is, depending on what you’re selling, that can be an extra, you know, fill in the blank. Yeah, or, you know, whatever your price point is. Yeah. So that’s why it matters to be in bookstores and libraries as well. And you know, wherever you can get.

John Corcoran  19:01  

Yeah, cool. Okay. Well, we’re running a little short on time. So, the last two questions that I always enjoy asking. So first, I’m a big fan of gratitude. So when you look at peers, others in your industry, maybe others who are clients of yours or others who are thought leaders, doing similar types of things, who do you admire? Who do you respect?

Alinka Rutkowska  19:20  

I respect anyone, it’s not just talking, does it? I think actions are a better testament to what you believe in. So I mentioned the London mastermind, led by Dean Jackson. And I think Dean is one of the biggest geniuses marketing geniuses alive right now. So he’s the one that helped me. He’s the one that asked me the right questions for me to come up with leaders for us. And we’ll always credit that, you know, give him credit for that. I dedicated our first leader’s print book to him. And yeah, always look at him as the person who helped us come up with us. So definitely. He’s the One.

John Corcoran  20:00  

Cool. And then the final question. So let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars of the Emmys you’re receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for everything you’ve done up until this point. But we all want to know is who do you think, you know, in addition to family and friends who are, who are colleagues who are peers, who are, who are mentors, you know, business partners, coaches, who would you acknowledge in your remarks?

Alinka Rutkowska  20:22  

Right, Dean again, that would be the first and then I would have to, I would definitely have to mention my team. So you know, they do so much amazing work. You know, they’re the ones doing all the nitty gritty stuff, right. I’m here during the glamorous interviews, and they’re the ones doing the writing and the editing and the proofing and the, you know, the neverending emails with the clients. And for sure, the various masterminds that I belong to, were part of a mastermind together. I belong to a bunch of others. I learned so much there. I think it’s a huge part of where I am today. I just learned so much.

John Corcoran 21:04  

And the ones you want to give credit to or give shout outs to.

Alinka Rutkowska  21:09  

Right, so the ones that have helped me a lot is JVMM. So shout out to Dov Gordon. Genius Network. That Yeah, that I’m in. So shout out to Joe Polish, the creator of Genius Network. And these are the two that I will mention right now that I’ve had the biggest return on so to speak.

John Corcoran  21:38  

Oh, cool. Great. All right. Well Alinka, this has been great. So where can people go to learn more about you and Leaders Press?

Alinka Rutkowska  21:44  

Right? So go to and wait for the annoying pop up and put in your name to get a copy of “Outsource Your Book”. Answers your book will get the E-book and the audiobook if you’d like to listen, I bet you like to listen because you’re listening to this podcast.

John Corcoran  22:01  

Yes, exactly. I’m certainly a big fan of audiobooks. So that’s cool. You give that away. Excellent. Alinka, thanks so much.

Alinka Rutkowska  22:09  

Thank you, John.

Outro  22:11  

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.