Fear of bad reviews seems to be the number one reason why many of my writer friends remain scribblers in corners rather than authors that are published. They may not say it in such words, often citing instead a myriad of other excuses such as lack of time or motivation. But in the end it all comes down to fear. I believe we are lucky to live in this time period. We can bypass the rejection letters and self publish. We can utilize the long tail and live our authentic creative lives. Even if your excuse for not publishing is that you want to be published by a publishing house, (as if they can provide a shield of legibility to protect you), you could still be making use of the new slush pile of the self published author. In fact, this slush pile seems to be on your side, as you walk into a publishing contract with the power to negotiate a little more as you come with fans.
Yet, despite the flocks of people publishing, there is are many more who are terrified. The belief that everyone is going to laugh at you is enough to make one hide. We are after all a social creature. And when they are laughing at your dream and something as personal as your writing, it is no wonder so many people want to write a novel but are unable to get it out. And when it is out they are unable to show it to anyone without a sensation akin to showing their flayed newborn to a sadistic circle of well wishers with handfuls of salt in their fists.
I get it. I have been self publishing and I am still afraid to tell people I write. When the German tells anyone I smack him. Yet it is not the bad review that makes me cringe. And this is why.
Bad reviews fall into one of three main categories for me. One is that the critique is authentic. I read it, I hang my head sheepishly and admit they are right. I keep it mind for improving later.
Another kind of bad review is from a person who just does not like my style. The person who writes that I am far too optimistic, or they hate BMW motorcycles and if I rode a (Harley, Honda whatever you want to stick in here) it would have been a much better book. Or if the book was not about a motorcycle trip at all. Those people I can not help. There is not a single book or movie or thing out there unanimously loved by the entire world. And that is ok. That is better than ok. It makes the world interesting and wonderful. We do not have to like everything everywhere. And so I can not let that stop me from publishing. I wish that these people find the book they do love.
The final category of bad review is that of the malicious reviewer. Someone who gets pleasure from hurting someone else. The Internet breeds them. The only thing more delightful for them than hurting someone is being able to do it from the comfort of their own home and where they get all the pleasure without any of the guilt. And those people are just sad. And not worth paying attention to. They only win if you do not write because of them. They are not living the life they want and can only be contented when others are not allowed either. Do not let them win!
So write, find those who love your writing. Improve it. Work on it. Spell check and get an editor and the like. Start small and go bigger as you go. But if your dream is to write, then do not let bad reviews stop you from writing.