Becca Wilhite Blog

June 24, 2010

Bad Idea, Good Result

Filed under: anxiety,reviews — becca @ 8:10 am

I did it. That thing they tell you that you should never, ever do. That dumb, egomaniacal thing.

I looked at my reviews.

Not professional ones (I don’t even know if there are any professional ones – I wouldn’t know where to look). Just the ones on Goodreads. Why? you ask. Why would you do this thing? Hm. Maybe here was nothing else to do? Well, yeah. That’s just silly. I don’t know why I did it. But I did.

I got on Goodreads (where I once set up an account, but have never really spent any time) on Kid 2’s login. Not to be sneaky or anything, but because I can’t remember my own, and the computer remembers hers. I looked up MRRO, and it said there were a bunch of reviews. (Bunch = technical term for something like 135, but I’m too lazy to pull up another web browser page and actually check my figures.) I read them. All.

I know. I’m a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, hyphenated-cliche-using idiot.

But do you want to know what? People like this book. Funny, isn’t it? There were 2 fairly negative reviews (one, which I love, and may reproduce in vinyl lettering for my bathroom wall*,  which something like, “I’m glad this book had the word “ridiculous” in the title, so I’m spared the effort of finding an appropriate description.” Tee-hee.) But the rest of the reviewers liked it. Some even loved it. And the best part? I only know like three of these people. (Hi, Kim!) It’s not like I recruited my friends and family to write positive reviews.

This time.

Once upon a time, like for instance, maybe eighteen months ago perhaps, let’s just say that I may or may not have asked a few people if they would maybe put up a kind word review on Amazon about BBM. Just a few. Like 5, I think. They did. (Hi, Emily!) But then a strange thing happened. I learned never to look at my own Amazon pages. Except to see MRRO’s page once in a while, as I waited for it to become available MONTHS after I had a box of copies. And one day, I looked (who knows why I do these things?) and saw seven reviews of MRRO. Seven. Not a single one of them were by a person that I know. Isn’t that amazing?

Now, I know that seven reviews are not much. Some people probably get that much in an hour. But this was a cool thing for me, especially because most of them say very kind things.

So to read more than a hundred strangers saying nice things about my writing? It was a validating exercise. And a gamble. Because it might take on a very different feeling if the scales were tipped AT ALL, and the ratio was any higher on the snarky side. But it wasn’t different. And it was … nice.

I like nice.

Also nice? A friend sent me a photo from her phone of MRRO on an actual book shelf in an actual book store in an actual state that is not my own! I know, right? (Hi, Melanie!) The book was face-out and everything! I’d love to post the photo here, but there is the little detail of Kid 2’s trip to Washington, DC and my phone’s untimely demise (appropriately) at Arlington cemetery (*snicker*). I love me some good irony.

And the point here is that sometimes, it’s okay to take an emotional gamble (but I’m only saying that because I won).

*Really? Do you think I have vinyl lettering on my bathroom wall? I guess not.


  1. So this is a perfect moment to tell you that I read MRRO yesterday. In one sitting. And laughed all the way through it. I even read my husband some of it, and he laughed too, and that’s saying a lot. So I think you’re amazing, and I’m officially joing your fan club. Because you should have one.

    Comment by Stacy — June 24, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  2. Hi!

    I am so thrilled for you that reading your reviews was such a positive experience. As you know, even the most acclaimed authors get some really nasty ones. I think your books are fabulous (natch), and I’m glad so many other readers share my good taste.

    Comment by Kimberly — June 24, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  3. Yay for good reviews. And not just a few, but a whole bunch. But I think it’s even more fantastic that Melanie saw your book where she lives. What store was it? Maybe someday my book will be sitting right next to yours. You know, in your state.

    Comment by Susan Auten — June 24, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  4. Yay! Good reviews from readers are awesome!

    p.s. I want vinyl words in my bathroom, is that a bad thing? =)

    Comment by Carolyn V — June 24, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  5. Who says gambling doesn’t pay? Congrats, you deserve it. Natch.

    Comment by Cindy — June 24, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

  6. It really is a big deal that it was in that book store. It’s a huge Barnes and Noble and it gets ALL the major authors coming through from Brandon Sanderson to Meg Cabot to (gulp) Jennifer Love Hewitt and Tori Spelling. That’s why I was so excited when I saw yours there.

    And MRRO deserves every good review it gets.

    Comment by Melanie J — June 25, 2010 @ 1:44 am

  7. I am happy for you! That is awesome.

    Comment by Kazzy — June 25, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

  8. I saw a YW in the hall at church holding Bright Blue Miracle and I felt so proud to say “I know that author” (and she was impressed). Not sure why she had the book in hand instead of her scriptures on the way to Sunday School, but… 🙂 🙂

    Comment by Meredith Smith — June 26, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  9. I think if I ever wrote something that had the potential to have reviews, I’d never have enough willpower not to check. Many times.
    I’m glad your exploit turned out so positive.
    Now, about that vinyl lettering…

    Comment by debbie — June 28, 2010 @ 7:30 am

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