Goodreads is ruthless (and how well For the Birds has sold so far)

An image of Crissi Langwell and the cover of For the Birds, which shows a man holding a red-haired woman, plus a blue and yellow macaw in the corner.

It has been just over a month since I published For the Birds, and I’m proud to say that this has been my best performing book ever during launch month. I’m excited to share those numbers with you.

Note: I’m a small-time author, so I’m going to divulge some numbers that might not seem super extravagant to you, if you think authors are supposed to sell thousands, even millions, in the first month of publication. But these numbers are big to me. Even more, I think it’s important for all authors to get a reality hit of what sales can look like, especially when you don’t have a big publisher or PR team behind you. 

The text on the image reads: Cute & steamy second chance romance. Their relationship couldn't survive the distance. Now he's back, and taken. So why does he keep looking at her that way? In a word bubble, it says, For the Birds is an incredibly cute romantic comedy that had me laughing as much as crying.

In my first month, I sold a grand total of 90 books. This included pre-orders, a boost by BookBub in their New Release newsletter at full price, and a Goodreads Giveaway leading up to launch.

In April, I sold another 40 books with no major promos.

For paid ads, I have had an ongoing Facebook/Instagram ad running at $2 a day (see screenshot below). I have also focused my energy on Instagram for social posts (which has been effective) and TikTok (which has been decent for traction, but not as much as I want). I also have Amazon ads going, but they’re too new to decide whether they’re effective or not. 

An image of my facebook metrics, showing 681 link clicks, 7 cents per click, and an ad spend of $48.63.

Reviews have been hard to come by. Most of my reviews have been organic, which is great! Unfortunately, it’s still a low number. I have 15 reviews on Amazon and 14 on Goodreads. So if you’ve read For the Birds, your review would be much appreciated! Ask me how to get a review copy for free. 😀

Speaking of Goodreads, reviewers there are super generous with the 3-star reviews. 😕 I’m not thrilled about this, especially since I have so few reviews. But according to everything I’ve seen, 3-star reviews on Goodreads are still considered a good review. 

The general guide to Goodreads reviews has it ranked like this: 

  • 5 Stars: it was amazing
  • 4 Stars: really like it
  • 3 Stars: liked it
  • 2 Stars: it was ok
  • 1 Star: did not like it

In contrast, here’s what star ratings mean on Amazon: 

  • 5 Stars: I love it
  • 4 Stars: I like it
  • 3 Stars: It’s okay
  • 2 Stars: I don’t like it
  • 1 Star: I hate it

For reference, books that also average in the 3-star range include The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, all Twilight books (okay, I’ll give them that). all of Sally Rooney’s books, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher, and so many Emily Henry and Katherine Center books, which is crazy because I think they share the title of queens of rom-com.

So, I have good company as a 3+ star rated book. The fact that people have read For the Birds, and ranked it that they “liked it” is not a bad thing.

Still, we all went to school. We all know what a 3 feels like – a C-average. And baby, I want straight A’s!

An image of For the Birds book next to a Thank You card

At any rate, I can’t be mad about how For the Birds has done. I love that it’s outsold all my other books’ launch months, and that I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the book. I have a book club getting ready to read it in a few months, and several bookstagrammers have expressed excitement about this book. 

Most important, I’m super proud of this book. To me, it’s the best book I’ve written to date, and I love how much I learn with each book I published. This book has been an incredible journey and learning experience, and I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned to the next book!

2 thoughts on “Goodreads is ruthless (and how well For the Birds has sold so far)”

  1. Got an extra copy laying around? I know a girl on summer break for the first time in a long time that is dying for some spicy fiction!

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