When it comes to book authorship, the stat that matters is sales. There are lots of other stats you can follow, but they don’t mean much if they don’t result in sales. Most of the stats you can watch don’t result in sales.
If you are an Indie/self-published author, and you don’t have lots of time or money to spend on promotion, you might not see much movement in your sales numbers.
There are many reason why you may not have time for promotion: you work a day job; you have multiple family obligations (e.g. children); you need your limited spare time to write more books.
Likewise, there are good reasons you may lack funds for promotion: your day job doesn’t pay well; your family obligations outgrow their shoes every three months; Uber passengers complained because you were typing at a keyboard while you’re driving in your spare time.
Everyone has their crosses to bear, and anemic book sales is one of yours. Compared to keeping your family obligations healthy and in fitting shoes, it’s not even a heavy one.
But it’s the reason you bother to look at other statistics.
Other statistics are less important, but they’re probably more interesting than the drying wall of paint that is your sales total. They can keep you engaged in your own writing career (using career loosely) until that future day when you actually develop a writing career.
Goodreads offers a full menu of ancillary stats. These stats don’t mean much in terms of charting success, but an author can move them without a huge investment of time or money.
It’s kind of an illusion to make you feel better.
If it makes you feel better, it’s a useful illusion.
The easiest feel-good illusion to create on Goodreads is the “to read” line. You can bump this by giving away a single book. When people enter the giveaway, a percentage of them neglect to uncheck the box that puts the book on their “to read” shelf, making it appear as if new readers are getting ready to read your book.
Like all temporary stupors, this Giveaway buzz comes with a hangover. Periodically, Goodreads readers realize their own mortalities, and that no one is likely to read 250,000 books in one lifetime. They turn to their “to read” lists and weed out some of the whims and un-won freebies. This is your book. You have been culled.
Being culled is somewhere below spilled milk on the list of things to cry over. Yes, a number related to your book has gone down, which isn’t good, but it’s a fantasy number. “To read” numbers rarely translate into “currently reading” numbers, which is the only stat in the same neighborhood as sales.
There is no shame in being culled. It means there was a person who at one time was willing to accept your book if it were totally free and delivered directly to their home, and that’s a start. That person has moved on, and so should you, because it’s time to take your family obligations shopping for shoes again.