A while ago, I wrote a self-depreciating post about my business posts, about how you should take everything i write with a grain of salt. To test what I say against what you learn and to test it on your own books.

I’ve recently realised one thing I forgot to write about was how to evaluate who is giving you the advice. So. Here’s how to evaluate a marketing consultant or whoever is offering you the advice.


This comes in a variety of questions that I’d want to know:

– how long have they been doing this (publishing). 

Someone who hasn’t published at all and is all ‘theory’ is very different from someone who has been publishing for years.

In some cases, some of that experience might be bad (dated) since, especially online, if you don’t keep up to date, you’ll be left behind. Amazon changes its website constantly.  So does the industry as a whole (audiobooks in the last few years and their explosion!).

On the opposite side, listen when it’s someone who has 40 years experience. They’ve seen shit. And some of that experience, some of that caution is because they’ve seen friends and maybe themselves get caught out by the very same thing you’re so excited about.

– trad or indie publishing experience

Again, what works for trad might not (probably won’t!) work with indie. Book tours, visits to conferences, in-person sales. Those aren’t as effective at moving the meter (quickly) for indies. For one thing, we often don’t have books in as many physical bookstores.

– in what genres? 

I’d be willing to talk to and test someone who does marketing in romance. That’s one of the hardest areas to have success. 

On the other hand, someone who sells… non-fiction is probably not going to do well marketing to romance readers, unless they’ve spent a lot of time studying how to do it. And even then, I’m not sure I’d want to be their test case.

So. Check genres they’ve worked in. Or that they publish in.

– how many authors have they worked with? What kinds?

Again, verify details like if they’ve worked with authors only in scifi starting out. That’s very different than working with an author in say paranormal romance with 40 books. Strategies change. Tactics change. 

If you’re getting advice from another author, eyeball where they are. If they are talking to you about launch strategies but are 8 years since their debut and don’t have a pen name they launched recently… well. Maybe they don’t really know how it is to launch without an in-built audience.

Next; Expertise

in what areas do their expertise lie? Are they saying they’re good at everything? Or are they focused on one aspect?

Realise that there’s numerous areas you can build up when you are working on marketing. No one is good at all areas. I suck at AMS ads. I do okay at FB. Newsletters, I’m getting better at but not at the acquisition section. That needs more work. And so on, so forth.

Find out what they’re good at. Some authors have done really, really well for themselves by learning one area of business / one tactic and being very, very good at it. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, they’re probably the best people to talk to.

So. Learn where their expertise lies.

– are they able to help on covers? blurbs? What do their covers and blurbs look like? 

Remember, those two things will affect sales almost more than anything else in the initial period. If they don’t know, can they point in the right direction? If hteir own covers and blurbs aren’t good, should you listen to their comments? 

Also… look below.


– let’s get personal. What kind of results do they have? For their clients? For themselves?

Talk to a few past clients. Find out results. Highest rank. Total revenue (if they’re willing to share). What stage was that client in in their career? Did they make a return (especially after paying for the consultation?)

If it’s an indie author (or an indie author who does consulting); what are their results? This is a little easier,

– check their latest book on Amazon.com. What rank is it?

– check their backlists. What ranks are they at?

– how many reviews? What are the reviews like (less about marketing since they aren’t editors and going to fix your book); but more as a general idea of what they have to work with.

– are they wide or in KU? Realise that you can guesstimate how well someone is doing looking at their current book ranks if they are in KU. It’s harder when they are looking at wide. Especially if their expertise is wide.

Some authors make more money on things like Apple than Amazon. And still pull in over $100k a year. So… verify if they are wide. Verify if they have audiobooks. That can affect things too.

Again, go back to what advice is being given. Do their results showcase the fact they know what they’re talking about (in that area?). 

– where is their income coming from? This is important for authors who are publishers and tout their skills because they’re authors. Verify how they are doing above; and then if they talk about how much money they are making; where?

This is particularly true for those FB author advertisers. Many, many of them have their highest ranking books their non-fiction books, the ones they are selling to you. Some haven’t released a fiction book in ages.

Even if they say ‘we have a pen name now’, if they won’t tell you (privately) what the name is, how can you trust them? 

If their majority traceable income is from their sales of their books / their consulting / etc. the product is you. 


There’s a reason I use numbers as much as I can. Giving data – real data – that people can track, verify and check themselves is important. When they don’t / can’t / won’t give such data; it can be tricky to verify results. 

How much of what they say is backed up with data. And if they do give numbers, do they mention how they got that information? Because not all data is equal.

Other Questions?

And that’s all I can think of. Do you have other ways you verify if someone is worth listening to?

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