TITLE is the 81,000-word memoir of Barbara Johnson, who metamorphosed from a seeker of love whose groin ruled her for the first 48 years of her life to a lawyer advocating for the need for court reform and the abolition of judicial immunity, resulting in her running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, being disbarred for criticizing the judiciary, writing a whistleblower book, and fleeing for refuge to Costa Rica, where, at 76, she continues advocating for justice while her groin still pulsates seeking love. 

Since titles are not copyrightable, I fear letting folks know the title ahead of time.
What do you think?

Who is up to reviewing and criticizing a memoir?

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If you fear letting us know the title, you might need a whole new kind of promotion. Let us know how that works for you. :-)
Ha!  What is the whole new kind of promotion?  Reviewers, agents, publishers will, of course, be told the TITLE.  If it is not copyrightable, isn't caution a good thing?

To be blunt, Barbara, no.


Caution is great when you're talking about a contract. It's odd when you won't tell people the title of your manuscript. As you say, titles are not copyrightable. So no one can "steal" it from you. It's perfectly legal for two or more authors to have the same title. It happens all the time.


Now if the title involves a trademark, that's another animal. You can't use a trademark (Coca-Cola, for example) that isn't yours without permission in a commercial venture.

I agree that titles are copied all the time.  When I titled my book Behind the Black Robes, I noticed that that title had been used years before, so I quickly added a subtitle to distinguish it from the others.  Perhaps I should have changed it altogether, but I didn't. 

This time around I am trying to avoid that problem.  Are you telling me not to worry about it?

At any rate, I am trying to find reviewers.  I prefer to wrestle with one problem at a time.

Are you willing to review and criticize it?

So you're worried about your legal enemies trying to shut down the memoir? Is that why you won't say what the title is? Or is there too much groin pulsation going on?


Me cornfused.

I don't believe my legal enemies are onto this one.  If they were going to shut me down, they would have tried to do it to my first book, which was uploaded to Amazon a month after I arrived in Costa Rica.  An knowledgeable friend said, had it been published before I left the States, I might have been put on a no-fly list.   Just caution!  Am I being paranoid?

The sooner you get the title associated with your own name the better. If it's really good and someone else wants to use it they will - as you say, titles can't be copyrighted, but at least you'll have used it first.



Very sensible.  Thanks, John.

Okay.  I am following John's sound advice!!  Note my new profile photo.  It is a segment of the cover I tried to design two nights ago.  The title--if you can make it out--is Sex, Sizzle, and Sadness or Sex, Sizzle, and Sadness  . . . and back again.

The photo is of me at less than half my current age; that is, at 33+ and not 76.

Any reviewers now?


This has been amusing. But seriously, why do you think that people will be eager to critique your book?  Are you paying?  If you're not paying, do you expect the advice to be worth anything?  Most books you couldn't pay me to read.

I have reviewed the books of many friends over the years.  I never sought payment and was never paid.  Generally communicating rationally and reasonably cemented friendships that were already strong.   Only one review for a high-school French teacher, who was but an acquaintance through another closer friend, ended with anger by the teacher. 

One friend who reviewed another manuscript I wrote in 1996 was a lawyer.  Then I reviewed his. We are still in communication, but not daily or weekly.  He is an expert in the area of law in which he practices and is very busy.  Occasional emails and a SKYPE call seem to suffice.   He is one of those friends you do not need to speak to daily to preserve a friendship.

A second friend who reviewed my 1996 manuscript has been a playwright and producer (in MA and in NYC)  for years.  I've reviewed a few of his works.  We are still in constant communication.

A third reviewer was a client in exchange for payment of my legal assistance.  He had won a Pulitzer for his investigative reporting which disclosed a major scandal in Arizona.

Although I never finished rewriting that manuscript, if I live long enough, I shall.  Their reviews were wonderfully constructive.  I simply was in overload at that time from my law practice.  Now that I am in Costa Rica and healthier than I ever anticipated, maybe I shall rewrite that MS.  Yes, I have their reviews with me here.  I talk more about that book and circumstances in my memoir.

So, I.J., payment to or fro is not the only benefit one may receive from reviewing a MS.

I am pleased, however, that you found my question amusing!  Humor and amusement is necessary for a long life.

No, actually I found the thread amusing.  If you exchange critiques, that's fine.  Both receive something from that.  But that's not the way you set up your original question.


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