I’m often asked if it bothers me having my novels judged & reviewed & evaluated by others. “Doesn’t it make you feel vulnerable?” Yes, but not the way it used to. With each new book, that vulnerability has thankfully shriveled to a mere speck compared to what it once was.
ie., When your debut comes out, your emotions are heightened and you go through the most unsettling time. After all, here's a story you created, stressed over, revised to death and now (gulp) it's out there, competing against thousands of others, many who have been doing this much longer than you have. (Note of interest: In 2005 there were over 172,000 titles published in the U.S. alone. Is it a competitive market? You bet.)
There's no way you can avoid bad reviews altogether if you plan to make this a long term career, because not everyone is going to like your work (ie., take me to a science fiction movie and I'll be clawing to get out within minutes; we all have different tastes). But should you lose sleep over it? Nah! You have more books to write, so get going already!
The Silver Compass is currently in production so I’m in “the safe zone” until reviews begin rolling in. It's as if I’m in an auditorium watching the spotlight flash around the crowd, focusing on others while I sit in the shadows, observing.
Still, when it comes to writing as a career choice, I'm in my element. Matter of fact, I can’t not write. I’d be miserable if I couldn’t. So if having my work judged by others comes as part of the package, I'm okay with that. The other option — not being published — would be worse than any bad review that ever comes my way.