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Rob Kosberg: Making Money With A Book

Our guest is a three-time international best-selling author and Founder of Best Seller Publishing.

He has published books in 30 different industries and marketed over 600 authors to bestseller status.

He is a speaker, business growth expert, and a former syndicated radio show host.

He is recognized for his expertise in helping coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs publish, promote and profit from their best-selling books in order to launch a life of independence and meaningful impact.

He's on a mission to create a thousand best-selling authors in the next five years.

Please welcome to the show, Mr. Rob Kosberg. 

Rob
Thank you. It is great to be with you as always. 
Dustin
I'm always excited when people stop in town and we're able to knock out a show, especially someone that I've known for quite some time. Thank you.
Rob
It is great to be here. It's not like I'm going to Wyoming. It is in San Diego.
Dustin
I want to take us back. Most people know we like to start the show this way. I want to go back to 2008, which for a lot of people, it was not an easy year. In the midst of the financial crisis, you are in the mortgage industry. 
Rob
It is not a great industry to be at.
Dustin
I was about to say not a good place to be. Many people that were in real estate or mortgages or around that, you got hit hard. You call it the biggest business lesson that you learned. I'm curious, how is it so? Take us back. What was it like back then?
Rob
It was painful. It wasn't just the mortgage business, I had a real estate company. We did title insurance. I was a licensed title agent. It was a separate business. We invested heavily in real estate also at a big mortgage company. We were doing $100 million a year plus in transactions. It was a big company and it was going great right up until the time that it wasn't going very great. 
Dustin
Did you see any signs? Did you have any intel because you were on the inside?
Rob
Yes, but you never think that it could as bad as what it was going to happen. A lot of people, especially those at the end of the financial markets will tell you that we were close to the ATM is not working and bank shutting down. In the real estate space, the only lending that was going on was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That was generally your first-time home buyers, lower price ranges. Everything that we did was high end. These were $700,000 and up, and that's not a lot in a place like San Diego or Pasadena, where I live, but that was a lot in Florida. Fannie Mae’s limit was $300,000 or $400,000. There was no money. People wanted to buy houses. They had good credit but it didn't matter. They couldn't get financing for a $700,000 house. It just shuts down. Real estate values dropped as much as 60% in nice areas. Who can anticipate that?
Dustin
I remember, it was nuts. It was the craziest, like Wild West. How did you recover? What ended up happening? How did you bounce back from it all?
Rob
Looking back, it happened faster than it felt like. At the time, it felt like it took forever. It was about 1.5 to 2 years, which was part of my journey. I moved out of real estate. I had been in and around real estate for a long time and I still love real estate. I own real estate and still invest in real estate and have Florida real estate. The reality was I wanted out. I would've liked a better exit plan, but I wanted out. This was my opportunity to reinvent myself and start something brand new. That's when I started a financial services company and began in that direction.
Dustin
I'm curious before we go there, you lived through that, you had quite the empire. How do you think differently now from those lessons? 
Rob
Number one, I was much more speculative in my investing. I was way more aggressive than I should have been. Of course, everybody was making money, which is always the danger. There weren't Uber drivers then, but when the Uber drivers have given you real estate advice, that's a good time to sell. There were lots of people giving great advice on real estate and making a ton of money in real estate. I got caught up in that and I speculated way too much. I'm older, but my investing is much more about safe and secure returns. I still love real estate, but cashflow real estate beats speculative real estate investing any day. My focus has changed considerably there. 
Dustin
Since we're talking a little portfolio here, you like real estate, obviously, you're an entrepreneur. You like business, anything, a stock. Do you have some gold? What is in your portfolio?
Rob
If you want to talk speculative, I love crypto. I really do. I got involved in early 2017. My son actually went to school here at UCSD, a math major. I heard about it from somebody else but ignored it and then my son told me. He bought this thing called Ethereum for $7 and it went up to $30 or $40 at that time. I'm like, "That's interesting. What is that?" He said, “It is cryptocurrency.” I learned more about Bitcoin. I was in a mastermind with an influencer in the Bitcoin space. I picked his brain and the more I learned about it, the more I felt it's a future. I own real estate and we do some Airbnb stuff that is safe and secure. I have very little in stocks to be quite honest. Most of it is a whole life type of cashflow insurance. 
Dustin
Me too, I like that.
Rob
It’s good stuff and safe. You know what you're going to get from it.
Dustin
It's funny because we're talking to investing, you also have some chops with debt. You talked about the financial services company and you got the idea to write that book, Life After Debt. What led to you writing a book? How did you know that was going to be a good move?
Rob
I didn't write, but I had two mentors advised me to do that and they were both right. One of them is Dan Kennedy from back in 2006. I started that book even before I closed my three companies down. I made many mistakes in the writing of that book that it took me another year and a half to complete it, which was part of my journey, but I didn't know. It's something that rang true to me. When you're being advised to do something by smart people who not just give advice but do it themselves, then it's a good bet to take that advice and follow through. It's worked out pretty well. 
Dustin
You are a smart man. The question that everybody might have, especially the entrepreneurs are thinking about it, how did you transform that specific book into business?
Rob
It’s good old-fashioned marketing. In some ways, it was getting lucky and, in some ways, it was putting many hooks in the water that I was bound to snag something. How much is luck and how much is how hard you're working at it? For me, what I did is I used the book to get out to the media. I sent the book to all the local radio, TV stations, etc. We were in the midst of the financial crisis. Somebody was like, "We'd like to have you on." I did about a five-minute radio show and they played it twice during that day. That day someone listened to it, called my office and became a client the same day. I was like, "I'm onto something here." The rest was pouring money into radio time, money, my own radio show and it was exploding. 
Dustin
What was the thing that you were selling? You're not making money on that book, it's the client.
Rob
No, I gave the book away. 
Dustin
Roughly, what were you selling and price points?
Rob
A number of different things. There was financial education, but most people couldn't afford financial education right at that time, the people that were struggling. There were several things. One was good old-fashioned refinancing mortgages. One was some IRAs and financial stuff, but also a big part of it was helping people with their debts. There was debt settlement and there were foreclosure defense and loan modification. We rode that wave and helped a lot of people during that period of time. Life After Debt was the front end and it was like, "This makes sense. I know I'm in debt, I need to get a life afterward." They came to us for it.
Dustin
You said something key that I want to make sure people understand. It's not that you wrote a book and it's done and you put it out and people magically started buying it or started knocking at your door for it for free. You said marketing. You had your organic show. You also did pay for advertising as well. What led you to get into that? Couldn't you get enough traction out of the show? 
Rob
It’s 100%, it was working well for us. Everybody's going out of business. The stock market had dropped by 50%. People were way upside down in their mortgages. I owned a home that I bought for $1.5 million. It had gone up to about $2.5 million and then the home was worth about $800,000. You couldn't build this house for $800,000. It was crazy what people were going through. I was like, "Let's find a way to get our message more out there." We started doing some radio ad spends and the ROI was fantastic. We spent more. We started small, but it grew to $20,000 a month on a local radio advertising that we were doing that.
Dustin
I remember us having a conversation a long time ago and I remember the numbers were impressive. You mentioned $20,000. Was that you were spending $20,000? How many leads were you roughly getting? Do you remember at the height of it all?
Rob
It is 100 a week, but a lead for us was giving the book away. The radio ad was, “To get a free copy of Rob's best-selling book, Life After Debt, call this number or go to our website and input your information.” This was before free plus shipping and all that stuff, which I do and it works like magic, but in those days, it was free plus free. We put my book in the mail but it was simple. It wasn't a hard sell. It was, "Let's double-check your address. We got your address correct. While we're on the telephone together, is there something we can help you with?" We had 12 to 13 guys and girls on the phone constantly getting books out to people and offering our services. It was simple.
Dustin
You’ve got a machine here and it’s working. You get the idea at some point, like, "I'm going to show other people how to do this process." What is that story?
Rob
Back into it, there was no idea. People started coming to me and it's probably because of the clientele we work with. A lot of people that we were working with were business owners. A dentist came to us and had spent $300,000 to build out their entire dental office. They can't make the payment of that for their dental office anymore. They want us to help. We're able to take that $300,000 and we're like, "It's drywall. You can't repossess this. Help us to negotiate." Then we negotiate it down to $30,000. All these business owners are coming in and they're like, “How are you doing what you're doing? It won’t work for me.” I'm like, "It all started with the book." "Maybe a book would help me." I started helping these business owners that were coming with debt issues to generate income using a book. It was totally organic and totally backed into it.
Dustin
I found it interesting and fascinating that the statistic that's out there, that 81% of people have that. I've been grateful to write some books so I was part of that. The thing that got me was that 81% want to do it. I'm not saying this is the easiest or funniest process. Maybe you can help us with that, but only 1% actually do embark on it. What has been your experience with that?
Rob
It's hard to do even with help. I have a dozen writers, editors and people that can take your content and make it magic. Even with all of that and all of those resources, it's still hard to do. Imagine sitting down and trying to take someone's advice to grind out 1,000 words a day or something. People never finish. You have all of these people with hopes and aspirations, but so few complete it. The biggest thing is knowing what the end goal is. If you're convinced a book will help you to get speaking engagements or grow your business or for whatever your motivation is, if you believe that, then you have to make some solid plans of what you're going to do with your book at the end. That'll carry you through to complete it. You need it. You need something to motivate you through to get it done. 
Dustin
Rob, I've heard it called the imposter syndrome, but what do you say to that person that says, "Who wants to hear my story?"
Rob
All of us feel that at one time or another. Usually, after asking a few questions, if we're talking about, “What would I say to that person?” I think of an individual conversation and once you speak individually to somebody and ask them a few questions about their expertise. You see the depth of the knowledge that somebody has and what they do. You know how it is. We always undervalue what we know. In a general sense, what I would say to everybody is, "You're undervaluing the years of wealth of knowledge you have.” On a one-to-one basis, I bet someone can ask you three questions and go, "You know so much. You should write a book." Get the help you need maybe to pull that stuff out of you, but also trust in what you know. 
Dustin
I'm curious if you get this objection, someone's already said, “Why am I going to put this in a book? I had a good one by this point,” and they said, “It really hit me. That's my story. Why should I put this in a book?” 
Rob
Your voice is completely different from every single person that came before you. Tony Robbins started writing financial advice books 3 to 4 years ago. MONEY Master the Game was the first one. First of all, Tony is not a financial advice guy. Secondly, do we need another book on financial advice? It became a New York Times bestseller and his next one was a New York Times bestseller. Of course, we need more information, not less information. Absolutely that's a cop-out.
Dustin
My goal with this show is to encourage. You helped me write one of the many books that I've written. I'm a big believer and in doing the show, everyone has a story, even though it may be a similar message. Maybe you resonate with that person more because they're softer. Maybe you were like the military people that we've had on the show and they're punching you in the face and that's the wakeup call. Everyone has a story, everyone has a different thing that it's going to hit and land in a different way. 
Rob
You're in competition, if you're a business owner, you're an entrepreneur or if you're a speaker. You're in competition with all the other speakers, entrepreneurs whatever your classes. You and I both know you need a way to differentiate yourself from them and if you don't have that, then trust me, they're thinking about it. A book is a massive differentiator.
Dustin
When I was first getting started in my business journey, imagine me, I probably looked twelve and I was older. It was very important for me to write that book because that was my business card. That was my credibility because they look at me and they're like, "You're twelve, how can you help me?" You hand him a book and it's a whole different thing. 
Rob
It was the same with Life After Debt. People knew me more as the guy that had been in real estate for twenty years and the guy that built these real estate brands. They didn't know me at all in financial advice. All they knew was I’m the best-selling author on this topic. I'm the guy that they hear all over the radio. It wasn't like, "You're the guy with a failed real estate company and you're going to help me with my money?" That's not very high credibility. When you're the best-selling author and you're on radio and TV and all that stuff, that's massive credit.
Dustin
Let's say here in this interview, they're excited. Someone is excited. They want to do a book naturally. The next question that comes up is, “Should I self-publish this book or try to find that publisher that's going to write me to a million-dollar advance?” What's your advice there? 
Rob
My advice is always to self-publish. That's true for 99% of the people. Why do I say that? The traditional publishers are going to ask you about five questions. They want to know how big your email list is. They want to know how big your Twitter follower is. They want to know how many Facebook friends you have. All they're interested in is your platform because when they write you that big check, this is not charity. This is a job. “Here's the check and this is our employment agreement. You're going to go bust your butt for two years to sell as many of my books because I own the rights to that book as possible.”
If someone comes along and they want to write you a $750,000 check because you have a massive platform, sure. The truth of the matter is, people like Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin and guys that already have massive platforms, they're self-publishing so they can control their own content because there's more money on the back end. That's the reason that publishers have these massive buildings. It's not because they're in the charitable donations business. They're making the money on the back end. If you have an opportunity to make the money yourself on the back end, you should. 
Dustin
Some of your clients are leveraging that back end. Some are making $100,000 or more a month tied back to the books. What is the model? What are they doing? How are they getting up to those numbers? 
Rob
It’s three primary things that we teach them. We help them directly. It's using your book for speaking to get speaking engagements. Those are the people that want to speak. They either sell from the stage or they're speaking in front of their ideal audience and they're getting customers from it. The next is media and PR. Media and PR is a great way to attract clients and build your profile. The last is lead generation. That's a big one that we use ourselves. My book Publish. Promote. Profit does $750,000 a month from the book and the book funnel itself, generating leads. We sell about 1,200 to 1,500 copies a month and could sell more but we can't handle the number of leads from the ones we're selling. If you're savvy, you can do all that stuff. We didn't talk about that. 
Dustin
It all starts with this idea of you were giving it away for free. You're just asking for shipping handling I feel as reasonable. What happens after that roughly? What does it look like from there?
Rob
In a whole funnel, what we're trying to do, it costs us advertising dollars to sell the book. If it costs us $20 to $30 to find a buyer and we're getting $7.95 on the front end, that $7.95 does cover shipping and handling and generally, the printing cost of the book. That's breakeven for the most part. If it costs us $20 or $30, we're losing $15, $20 and $25 for every new customer we're getting. We monetize it via additional offers within the funnel. We have a couple of bumps, a Kickstarter training, we have a book bundle because I have multiple books out that they can get for $37. The audio version of the book and training is $47. I have a $297 coaching thing that I offer called BSP University. Our average free book makes us about $37. If we're able to spend $37 to acquire a customer, we're getting $37. We have not just an email opt-in, we have a buyer. I don't need to tell you the value of a buyer. We're a done-for-you service. We're not just looking to make money on the products, we're looking to help people to make the dream come true.
Dustin
I wish people would come up with that mindset. When you can outspend your competition then things get interesting. A lot of people don't think about that loss leader, which corporate and big companies do. They do that to get you into that in the second and third sale.
Rob
I grasp it for the first time when I was doing the financial services company because we spent a lot of money on the radio. We were everywhere on the radio. Every now and then, little companies would come in and spend a little money and offer the same kind of thing, but the fence was so high. We sponsored the afternoon show and I was on in the morning, all this stuff. No one could get over our fence. In the same way, if you can profitably attract customers, then you can build this massive fence up for your business. 
Dustin
You mentioned media being one of the barstools if you will of your model. You and your clients had been on Fox, ABC, CBS, all the big ones and many more. The book is the key part of it. What do you do? I got the book, do I hire a PA or agent and am I mailing this book, trying to figure out who the producer is? What is now the strategy once I do have a book?
Rob
Once the book is out, we go into a launch process because we want the book to be successful. After the launch process, we don't focus on the book anymore. We focus on using the book to get the customer what they want, which is media, PR, speaking, lead generation. The media and the PR are as simple as using a best-selling book to say, “This best-selling author has this cool topic,” and it fits directly with this thing that's happening in the news or whatever the hook is. We have to find a great hook and then book them out on radio, TV, you name it, and New York Times to The Howard Stern Show. We have clients on.
The interesting thing that's probably important to mention is most people do not make money from that direct PR exposure. That's not true with podcasts. I've been on podcasts such as John Lee Dumas’ podcast a number of times. Those are my ideal clients. From one podcast, I can make $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 of real business that comes to me. I've also been on TV all over the country and I don't know that one person has ever called me from a TV appearance. However, that TV appearance has landed me speaking engagements and other opportunities because of the credibility. It feeds together. 
Dustin
The real key is it's a lot harder to get in the media unless you have a book. Your stats on that and almost no one gets on the media now.
Rob
It's hard. That's a good question. I don't know the stats on that. I probably should tell people, "Who wants to try and get on media? Here are the stats." I should know that, but I can tell you that we have our own in-house PR firm. We do PR for our clients. We don't start the PR until the book is done and made into a bestseller because that's what gives us the authority to say, "You want this gal on TV." The book gives us that foundation. 
Dustin
Speaking of stats, one of the stats I found in getting ready, we had talked about 81% of people wanted to write a book, only 1% do out of those 1%. In a lifetime, after you pour your blood, sweat and tears, only 200 to 250 copies are sold of a book on average. What does it take to become a bestseller? Obviously, you can do substantially more than 250, where should people's expectations be? 
Rob
Your expectations should be dependent upon the work that you're willing to put in and the investment you're willing to make, either investing in your financial resources to get help from others or investing in your own blood, sweat and tears. That's normal. It's important to maybe mention that. I talked to a new client who called me and said, "I want to talk to you about this new book that I'm doing." When we got on the phone, he was like, "I want to tell you about this old book that I did a year ago." First, we looked at it. I went online. I looked at and I was like, “You have no reviews, what's going on?" He's like, "As soon as I published it, I sighed.” That's what every author does. Now the work begins, the fun part begins. You have to think in terms of the work isn't done when the book is done. It's like you finally bought a Ferrari and it's sitting in the garage. The fun doesn't start until you take the Ferrari to the track or you get it out of the garage. There's a little fun in looking at it, but not much. Not relative to everything else. You have to be willing to figure out what your goal is and invest to make it happen. 
Dustin
You have some interesting clients. One of them is a US ambassador in South Africa. I'm curious as to some of the people that you've worked with because everyone has a story. I know you know those stories. What are some of the ones that stand out to you?
Rob
I love interesting clients. Obviously, Delano Lewis, US Ambassador, was the former President and CEO of NPR or National Public Radio. I didn't know that he sat on the board of Colgate and Palmolive for many years. I did not know because he never told me this, but he was on the board of Apple when they fired Steve Jobs. I was like, "That's probably not something you want in your resume." He’s a super interesting guy. I love him. He's embarked on the third iteration of his career, which is cool. We've worked with a lot of people. Even in cybersecurity or AI, which is an interesting topic. We're doing a book for a client who sold his business to Mastercard for $200 million. He's doing a book on AI and starting a new AI company. It is cool working the guy that formerly heads Interpol or director. He's through a relationship with another author. It's cool people I get to have relationships, which is neat.
Dustin
I definitely know the feeling. I wanted to ask you about this. I only saw part of the clip. Who doesn't like to talk about Kim Kardashian? You were making a comment about Kim Kardashian’s conundrum. Would you break that down so we can talk about Kim on the show? 
Rob
That's right. Maybe throw an image or something up there of Kim. The idea with Kim Kardashian conundrum has obviously become famous for nothing. It goes a little bit with what you had asked about previously, what do you say to the person who has the imposter syndrome? You have a wealth of knowledge. The Kim Kardashian conundrum is, “You can take your knowledge and parlay it into something amazing and successful because there are people that have taken nothing and parlayed it into something amazing.” 
Dustin
You've got an amazing business. You're empowering many people to get their message out to the world and it sounds the marketing machine is good, which is always a great place to be in. What does the future look like? What are you working on? What's next for Best Seller Publishing for you? 
Rob
I love what I do. We were talking a little bit about this before. I don't have an exit strategy, which is both good and dumb because I don't want to exit like a dead real estate company. I love the team that we've built. I love the clients that we have. At the moment, I'm not looking to create something new and separate. It's more, “How can we do a better job and give people what they want?” We're toying and have played around with the idea of building funnels out for our clients, even though we're not a tech company, but the idea is, they have the book. What they want is the book to generate leads as we do and we do all my stuff in-house. We've played around with taking the next step of we have all this cred now. They want us to actually do what we're doing for ourselves. We've played a little bit with that and that seems to have worked well.
Dustin
I’ve got to say that you have quite an incredible background. You've been in the lows, you've been in the highs and then you've evolved with business as it's going on. I'm curious what you might tell your younger self or a young buck, a young entrepreneur that's starting their career. What advice do you give them in this day and age and at this point in time?
Rob
That's easy. I tell my kids this, "Don't be afraid to test, try anything." First of all, it's not a failure, but even if you consider it a failure, it's not fatal. God willing life is long. Here I was in my early 40s seeing my whole life come crashing down. All the money that I was making went away and evaporate and then I was left with nothing but all the debt. It's like, "Holy cow." When you're in your 40s, you feel, "That was my shot." The reality was it wasn't my shot. This may not even be my shot. Don't be afraid to take action and if it doesn't go the way you hope it goes, fine, you learned and you grew. You created a new skill and hopefully enjoyed some of the journeys.
Dustin
I love what you're up to in the world. Thanks for coming on the show. Thanks for doing what you do getting the message out there. That's a powerful responsibility. For people that want to get a copy of the book at BestSellerPublishing.org. Where's the other way to get the book?
Dustin
Publish. Promote. Profit. and they can get the book that you talked about for free.
Rob
Absolutely, free plus shipping. Some people get angry. They're like, "It's not free because they're shipping."
Dustin
It cost money to make a book if they only knew it.
Rob
It is free. 
Dustin
Anywhere else that they can keep tabs if they want to continue the conversation with you?
Rob
We do a lot on social media. We spend and do a lot there. Those two websites are the best place.

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To most people the stock market feels like gambling. But stock index funds have consistently outperformed most actively managed funds.

The Magic of Stock Index Funds: How To Consistently Grow Your Retirement Fund [With Less Risk]

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6 Different Kinds of Car Insurance: Which is Right for You?

If you don’t know what your car insurance plan covers—now’s the time to find out. You’ll be surprised by how much you can save.

6 Different Kinds of Car Insurance: Which is Right for You?

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Pack Your Lunch, Pack Your Wallet: How To Save Money on Lunch at Work

Packing your lunch is an easy way to save thousands a year. Learn how to start packing your lunch and stick with it.

Pack Your Lunch, Pack Your Wallet: How To Save Money on Lunch at Work

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Are You a Restaurant Server? Here's How To Budget When You Work for Tips

Learn how to budget when you work for tips. How to take control of your finances in the service industry.

Are You a Restaurant Server? Here's How To Budget When You Work for Tips

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The Hidden Power of Life Insurance

The Hidden Power of Life Insurance

How to Protect Your Ass(ets), Save Smarter, and Start Putting Your Money to Work

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