The good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good? The act of being or having gone viral is relatively short-lived. People have incredibly tiny attention spans. If an author loses his or her composure over a negative review, a backlash can be expected, but it has an expiration date. A few months pass, and while your name might remain at least fleetingly familiar, it would take a trip to Google for a reminder. Granted, that might not exactly be reassuring, but soon people will be talking about something else.
The bad? Yes, for a while, if you have amounted bad publicity, you will be the topic of gossip and e-water cooler chatter. There will be people who remember you, and not fondly.
The ugly? Some of those people who remember you are those you don’t want remembering you.
Reputations are incredibly fragile things. Repairing any amount of damage, if at all possible, isn’t easy. Ask Robert Downey Junior if you think otherwise.
Ultimately, the reputation you have can and will shape your relationship with publishers. If you’re a difficult author to work with, word can well spread between houses. Where the important things are concerned, the Internet doesn’t forget. The relationships you forge, the people you encounter, the readers you inadvertently piss off, the tweet you shouldn’t have tweeted, the comment you made in a fit of anger on a blog…these things can all come back to haunt you.
The shield of a computer monitor can provide the illusion that professionalism isn’t an essential. We have to be mindful of ourselves as public figures, even if we’re not traditional public figures. Our business is with our readers, and readers who don’t respect the author are not likely to provide their patronage.