No one can tell who first said this popular quote, but there are plenty of examples of it not being correct.
Sooner or later, I am going to get a bad review. It’s inevitable, especially as I gain a wider reading audience across my books. The recent giveaway through Goodreads will allow dozens more readers to comment on my books. These are people already comfortable with sharing their ideas and opinions across the world-wide web. Surely one of them will dislike my work.
If I seem somewhat unconcerned about negative comments, well, consider these fun stats (from Goodreads):
Catcher in the Rye has 161 ratings of 1 star.
The Once and Future King has 722 ratings of 1 star.
Hamlet has 3,039 ratings of 1 star.
The Bible has 3,818 ratings of 1 star.
Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone has 24,406 ratings of 1 star.
So, I think it’s safe to say, somewhere along the line, I’ll get at least ONE person who not only thinks my book is the lowest of the low, but feels compelled to post that opinion. What will I do then?
While I don’t agree that there is no such thing as bad publicity, I do believe that someone who feels the need to express their views about something (especially creative) has been moved in some way by the work. Granted, a 1-star rating suggests they were either moved to the bathroom or the trash can (or perhaps both, respectively); it is still more than simply tossing the book away with a shrug (costly, if it’s an e-book).
Historically, creators debating opinions on their creations is seldom a wise choice. The effect is magnified with the impersonal nature of the internet. Silent acknowledgement is the smartest move.
Hopefully, even the (rare?) negative review will offer me something I can consider and give thought to in my future works. It’s possible there may be one that simply says “This book stinks (or something more colorful).” That would be more than disappointing, it would be useless. A review like that would be a bad bad review.