Apparently, I've never mentioned author points here. I'm in a rush, so I'll be brief:
I forget who introduced me to the concept. Zed, maybe? The idea is that author points are an abstract measure of a given reader's trust in an author. When you sit down to read a story, the author may start out with (for you as reader, anyway) some author points (you know the author, you like their work, you've heard good things about their work, the blurb sounds intriguing, whatever); if so, that may make you more willing to trust that they know what they're doing. If the author starts out with no author points or negative author points for you as a reader, then you won't necessarily trust them to know what they're doing.
Authors can gain and lose author points over the course of a story, too. If the reader finds the beginning of the story brilliantly written, insightful, engaging, moving, intriguing, the author gains author points; if the reader is bored or annoyed by the beginning of the story, the author loses author points. If the author builds up author points toward the beginning of the story, the reader may be willing to cut them some slack if the author loses (or spends) points later in the story.
The main point here is that an author who has author points for a given reader can get away with more than one who doesn't.
The particular area where this comes up regularly for me is submitted stories that start out looking like very standard/ordinary examples of a particular genre, plot, or theme. If the author is someone whose work I've liked in the past (whether published or not), they may have enough author points (for me) to be willing to trust that they're not doing the same old thing. But if the author is (for example) entirely unknown to me, the story may not keep my interest long enough to get to the part where, three-quarters of the way through, the author turns things on their head and we learn that this isn't a horror story after all. Or whatever.
The author-points paradigm has its flaws, of course. But I find it a useful way to think about certain things.