Ignoring Critics?

“Don’t read your reviews. Weigh them.”
Andy Warhol

I recently stumbled upon the quotation above. It’s a good one, echoing other great quotations ignoring what critics write:

A “critic” is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased — he hates all creative people equally.
Excerpt from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long in “Time Enough For Love” by Robert A. Heinlein

and seeing even seeing the positive in it:

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Phineas T. Barnum


There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
Oscar Wilde

or newer

“No additional shot nor powder, a compass that doesn’t point north,” [looks at Jack’s sword] “and I half expected it to be made of wood. You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.”
“But you have heard of me.”
Norrington and Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”

But as phrases.org.uk correctly mentions, this might differ according to your goals:

The idea that no publicity can do harm is clearly open to question. For someone seeking notoriety and a somewhat scandalous reputation, like Marie Lloyd and Mae West in days gone by, or Paris Hilton in our era, that may be true. The shareholders of BP and Toyota, which have both suffered falls in their market price due to worldwide publicizing of their recent difficulties, may feel differently.

In this sense, people whose work sells and whose primary critics are the audience who show their support by buying the work have it a bit easier than, e.g., scientists. For them, a few representatives of the field do determine the success, e.g., whether their work gets published or not, and whether other researchers pick up their work. It’s also clearer when there are serious methodological issues in the work, putting the interpretations and conclusions in question. And this is the kind of feedback every scientist should be thankful for, because it improves future work.

But when it comes to work where you want to appeal to a specific audience — yeah, if you reach them, who cares that “experts”, literary or otherwise, think your work has no merit. The world proves them wrong.


P.S.: One caveat though that might screw the whole idea of the posting. If you reach your audience, it does not mean that there is no better or worse. For example, there are books that talk about things that also happen in reality and — while the book is clearly fiction and not an instruction manual — it might inspire people to try out certain things. And while you cannot hold authors responsible for the stupidity of their readers, I think an author should at least get the facts right. And of course, there is fraud — where you cheat the public (which you can reach) out of their money.