Publisher’s Weekly Book Review: The Lesson of the Book Title

Avoid Criticism

Avoid Criticism (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)


A woman once approached my friend, Maggie, and asked her in a very smug way, “How could are you at accepting advice and criticism?”

Maggie shot her a withering look and said, “I don’t do advice and criticism. Only insights and suggestions.”

So, I don’t give advice and criticism. And the best part is that I’ve learned that if someone wants to give me advice, I can take it or leave it. I’m my own best expert. As for criticism, once I’ve figured out who I am, I can decide if the criticism is valid. For example, I have an acquaintance whom I call Hank (as in, Hank likes hanking my chain). Hank once told me I was very inconsiderate. Now, if he had called me a klutz or a perfectionist or judgmental (of myself as well as others) I would have paused and taken his comment to heart. But I know myself. I know I try hard to be considerate. So I can dismiss his comments.

Which brings me to the funniest thing – the book review I got from Publisher’s Weekly. The judge wrote,

“Author Diana Bletter has written a book about her trip to Alaska on her motorcycle.  The best part of The Mom Who Took Off on her Motorcycle is her passion for telling her story.  This is a riveting account of a personal adventure many would not even think about undertaking.  Full of observations and humor, this story of a 10,000-mile-journey is the inspiring tale of how one woman takes off to discover who she was before she had children and to find out who she could still become.  Mrs. Bletter can improve her book with a new title.  Many books sell well because the book is well packaged and well designed and seem to get the exposure that others do.  It has been said that a book takes three to five seconds to grab the attention of a casual browser.  The title of a book becomes even more important when the author is not well known.  A book’s title has the power to make or break a sale and this is definitely one of the important elements of book publishing.  Your book could stand out on a bookshelf with a title that really pops.”

How funny is that?!? A title that really pops? How more poppable can “The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle” get? Think: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. For Whom the Bell Tolls.

All in all, it’s a fabulous review, and for that, I’m grateful.

The key is, once we know ourselves, once we know what we like and dislike, what makes us tick, tock, laugh, cry, run for joy, scream, panic, what triggers us, what we harbor in our heart and soul, then nobody else’s approval or disapproval matter.

So thank you, oh anonymous book reviewer wherever you are! You provided me another spiritual lesson. You can’t judge a title by a book reviewer.

Once we really know ourselves, then we don’t have to get all worked up about what someone else says. 

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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4 Responses to Publisher’s Weekly Book Review: The Lesson of the Book Title

  1. juliabarrett says:

    Sorry – funny and ironic, off-putting and genuine all at the same time.

  2. juliabarrett says:

    Not you, I mean the review.

  3. First, Diana, I think it’s a Tony-the-Tiger G-R-E-A-T review. If he had to pick on something, let it be the title. Personally, I like your title and its pop-i-ness.
    When I was teaching h.s. writing to publish classes, I told them that you don’t copyright titles, only every word AFTER the title (except in cases of attempted fraud or misrepresentation, etc.) Since I was also an English teacher, with every poem, short story or article the students wrote, in addition to their actual title, I gave extra credit for those who found an applicable, actual title from another work, or made changes to actual titles. The results were hilarious, reminding us not to take too seriously the comments or comparisons made by critics and readers.
    For your book, you could borrow from Stephen King: MISERY On A Motorcycle. Or go with Hemingway: Old Woman And The Motorcycle. Or be inspired by Steinbeck’s last novel; Summer of My Discontent.
    Naw, your title is a gem!

    • dianabletter says:

      Those are great suggestions, Marylin, except for Old Woman on a Motorcycle!!! I also like your way with titles! Keep writing!

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