Here’s a strange little post about advice, rankings and reviewing individuals.

One of the most important things about taking advice in the self-publishing business is knowing who you’re taking advice from. If someone is giving you advice on how to sell well but then aren’t selling well… you should run.

That’s the general line and advice given to people by those in the know. And that’s not wrong. Certainly, things that are important when weighing advice include:

  • number of books
  • genre the author writes in
  • when they released their latest work (past success 10 years ago is NOT indicator of current success and/or ability to succeed in current climates) 
  • rankings of books (i.e. how well they are selling)
  • variations in types of books they have (just ebook? how about audio? paperback? etc.)
  • number of reviews on books / series
  • number of series (someone who only has 1 great series might not have much to say on launching multiple series)

All those things can and will help you decide if someone is worth listening to. If advice given doesn’t lead to something you can verify, it’s worth taking that information with a grain of salt.

And yes, obviously, there are pen names. But if they won’t tell you what they are, how can you verify if they know what they’re saying? 

Trust but verify.

Anyway, that’s the basics. But here’s the thing… it’s not that simple.

Rankings – Other Country Issues

One of the reasons I wrote this post was because I met someone who has, for the most part, made the majority of their income (95%!) from the UK market. Their rankings aren’t great in the US, but in the UK, they’re literally one of the biggest indie authors in their genre.

Since the majority of us just check .com when we want to verify someone’s level of respectability. 

So, do verify if their rankings are an issue in major countries.  

Rankings – Wide Authors

Here’s another thing that complicates matters. KU authors will always rank higher than Wide authors. They have more ‘sales’ than wide authors in Amazon, so they will on first glance, look better.

However, wide authors can generate anything as low as 40% of their income from Amazon. So if you assume % income to be maybe only 50% of what you see – that might help give you a better idea of their truthfulness of income amounts (if they mention that) and overall level of knowledge and reputation.

Number of Books

Another thing to think about. It’s worth noting that some older authors or romance authors or erotica authors make up their income not from having a single, big hit series but having 100+ works. 

$1 a day earned from 100 works is still $100. Which is still $3k. If they are, then also wide authors… well, that’s starting to be real money.

Other Income Sources

Also, do be careful with authors who might have gotten their start on things like webserials. There are some hugely successful webserial authors who have done incredibly well. Now, I won’t recommend listening to them about selling on Amazon (since most who start and stay on webserials don’t focus on the marketing on Amazon or other retailers); but they do have much to say about being successful doing webserials.

On top of that, Kickstarter is another major way of generating income. Patreon (see above) or hybrid authors who have contacts and reputation to get foreign income…

Anyway, just something to note that it often helps to dig a little further. Sometimes, it’s not worth it – but if said people are generally well respected in the community and you can’t figure out why; look deeper at where their income sources might be.  

It still might not be worth listening to someone talking about how Amazon marketing sucks if their Amazon ranks (in all countries) is dismal; but they might still be someone worth listening to if they talk about webserials or audiobooks or what not.  

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