A curious quirk of human nature is that "good" is boring, so often doesn't sell sufficiently well or get our attention as much as "bad". Perhaps that's because of a curious trait of human nature: so many more people are motivated by the negatives of fear, loss, pain, and so on, rather than what's nice and wonderful about our world.
Newspapers, advertisers, millions of websites - all understand the basic rule above: many people pay more attention to the bad stuff.
If we don't want to be exploited, we don't have to play that game. At any moment, we can change our outlook, even if outward circumstances are the polar opposite of what's good and fine and beautiful. How: if we close our eyes, or cover our ears, our thoughts are our own.
So essentially, the professional critic exists to create storms - especially where there are none. Newspapers then sell more copies, and news websites gain more visitors. For many, the fear of something is far more compelling than the benefits of something else.
Furthermore, critics don't often enjoy any prizes for saying something is great. In the wave of negativity that seems to be strong among many across the world, right now, tension and controversy are almost guaranteed to sell more newspapers, magazines, grab priority air time, and capture valuable website attention space.
Traditionally, and perhaps not surprisingly, authors especially, often have much to say about critics. For example, Brendan Behan (1923-64) cites:
- "Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves."
Author John Osborne (1929-94) suggested:
- "Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post what it feels about dogs."
What Drives a Professional Critic?
Remember, what ultimately powers most media outlets is the considerable sales value that lies in advertising slots. From a business perspective, often advertising revenue is "What it's really all about": TV programming, quality, drama, and so on, are often all secondary issues. To the viewing and reading public, of course, the reverse is true. Yet here, we're exploring what could be described as the real drivers in business.
Consider how many times well known critics have slated and ravaged a new literary creation, yet later, the public have flocked to buy the same book or enjoy the film!
How Public Criticism Can Actually Help Boost Sales of Your Book, e-Book or Website
Such "Reverse-nosis" suggests several additional benefits:
- If a critic slams your book, production or website, understand that's not necessarily a bad thing.
- Often, even so called "bad publicity" actually helps create more sales. Given the choice of trying to appear wonderful to everyone and getting a bigger royalty check / cheque, remember, pleasing everyone doesn't necessarily pay your bills.
- Some so-called "bad publicity" can also give your book, e-book or website greater credibility. Why? If you have nothing but glowing feedback, some folks may simply refuse to believe anyone could be "that good", and therefore, may start to disbelieve most everything they read or hear about you. That's when a little bad publicity can make you seem more human - and therefore, believable.
Sometimes, competitors can organize false bad reviews on websites like Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and so on, to help discredit an author or publisher, in favor of another. Yet often, unexpected outcomes can frustrate such individuals. While host websites do what they can to stamp out such practices, there are many ways to create fake reviews.
Nevertheless, how can so-called "bad advertising" boost sales of your book, production or website? As the saying goes "All publicity is good publicity", since both good and bad publicity gives you as the author or creator something valuable: you gain more public attention. When you capture attention, that in itself becomes free advertising.
There's also another key message here: in your writing or website promotion career, those people who are most important to you are your readers, buyers, customers and clients, first and foremost - absolutely do listen to them.
Furthermore, I recommend that you cultivate the development of an open mind to what professional critics have to say. Why? Two reasons especially:
- Be gracious: allowing for the fact that true professional critics do have their own agendas, as discussed above, sometimes, a critic really can identify a shortfall in what you're offering. This provides you with valuable feedback for no cost.
- Not all bad reviews are bad. Sometimes - a critic may identify an important trait or weakness of which we're unaware. How: often, we may be too close to our creative project to see the full picture. In these circumstances, an independent eye can help identify areas to improve and help us get better at what we do. However, mostly you'll just want to learn how to filter out the nonsense. You decide.