I visited Amazon a couple of days ago, blamelessly wishing to buy a couple of books, and an invitation popped up: if I happened to be the author of The History of the Ancient World, The Well-Trained Mind, and other books by Susan Wise Bauer, I could construct an Author Page.

Simple fact of writing in 2009: anytime you get offered an opportunity to promote yourself, you should take it. (Hey, all those people who post one-star reviews of my books should have some competition. Particularly when they make nasty statements without supporting evidence. But I digress.)

So I followed the link to my Author Page, where I posted my photo and a brief bio. Now any Amazon.com readers who are dying to see what I look like can indulge themselves.

Amazon then notified me that it would have to confirm my identity with my publisher. Works for me; I don’t want random people masquerading as me on the world’s biggest online retailer.

Apparently this involves checking with my publisher to verify my email address. I’m kind of curious as to who, at W. W. Norton, got to answer that particular important query.

Anyway, within 48 hours I got an email from Amazon: “Hi Susan Wise Bauer…”

Congratulations! Your publisher has verified your account information. Your Author Central account is now activated.

We encourage you to sign-in to Author Central and share more information about you and your books:
Add your books and suggest changes to your bibliography
Post a photo and provide a biography (if you haven’t already)
Connect with your readers by blogging
Any information you’ve already provided through Author Central will be reflected on the Susan Wise Bauer Page shortly.

The Author Central Team

Five minutes later I got another email from Amazon:

Hi Susan Wise Bauer,

Random House was unable to verify that your email address belongs to Susan Wise Bauer.

We’d like to help you complete the activation of your account. If you believe there has been an error, you may contact your publisher through Author Central. Or you can contact the Author Central Team directly.

The Author Central Team

Quite apart from the weird sort of logical parodox in the salutation and first line of this email (not to mention the use of the hyphenated adjective “sign-in” as a verb in the other message), this puzzled me because I have never written ANYTHING for Random House. So I sent them a query. Why, I wondered, were they pestering Random House, as 1) I am not a Random House author, and 2) Norton already confirmed my identity? (And why would I want to contact my publisher through the very indirect route of Amazon’s Author Central Team when I could simply call the editor-in-chief’s cell phone? But perhaps there are reasons I’m not aware of.)

A day later, I got this response:


I understand your concern as we have contacted “Random House” to approve you as an author even though they are not your actual publisher.

We requested that “Random House” approve your registration because they are listed in our records as your publisher, or at least one of your publishers.

We sometimes have more than one publisher listed for an author, and in these situations we send approval requests to all publishers listed.

*****However, only one publisher needs to verify your account.*****

After looking into your Author central account, I see that one of your publishers “Norton” has already approved you as an author and your Author central is active now.

You can find your Author central page using the following link:


You can now add or edit your photo as well as biography on this page.

I hope this information was helpful. Thank you for using Author central.

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

Best regards,

Sujay P.

As there’s no way to contact Sujay P., I can’t point out that this link goes to the Author Page of a nice man named Briane Keene, who apparently writes horror for a publisher called Leisure Press. Nor can I ask them to correct their records to reflect that I do not and have never written for Random House. Or, indeed, any sub-section of the Bertelsmann Group.

I do, however, appreciate the sudden appearance of caution in the vague and non-specific salutation, “Hello!”

If I were a bad person, I’d see whether I could edit Brian Keene’s account. But I resisted the impulse (and I’m hoping that whoever got sent the link to MY account shows similar restraint).

Showing 12 comments
  • Bethany

    Well, the only logical question would be this: have you ever considered writing horror stories to be published by Random House?

  • Brian Keene

    Hi Susan,

    It gets even weirder. I had the same thing happen to me last week when I set up my author page. Of the four publishers they contacted, one was a company who I’ve never written for. When I emailed Amazon about this, I got the same response you’ve reproduced above, and it was from Sujay P.

    I have to wonder if Sujay is using his/her response to me as a form letter, and perhaps forgot to remove the link to my page. And if so, how many other authors have been redirected to that over the past week?

    Hope they straighten it out for you. Gotta love this business sometimes, right?


    PS: Thanks for not editing my account, though. ;>)

  • Tod Clark

    Very funny story Susan. Do yourself a favor and pick up something by Brian Keene. I think this is a sign that you need to read something by him.

  • monica

    neat-o bio. tell us more about the traveling drama group

    monica in nj

    p.s. please don’t scold me for any grammar mistakes. I’m just a humble homeschooling mom

  • Susan


    Think of the publicity! All those writers visiting your author page.

    So now I have to read some of your stuff. What’s your favorite of your books? Give me a recommendation.


  • Brian Keene

    Ha! If you’re serious, give Dark Hollow a try, I guess. It’s certainly my personal favorite. But turnabout is fair play. Which one of yours should I try?

  • Susan

    Well, I don’t know if it IS fair…my books seem to average around 800 pages. 🙂 But the History of the Ancient World is my favorite so far (to be replaced in February by the History of the Medieval World, which was even more fun).

  • Nomi

    Hi Susan,

    Curious, I ran your name on Bookscan, and it looks like the culprit is a book called Through the Darkness Hide Me, Multnomah, imprint of Random House.

    Computer errror can look so much weirder than human error, but there’s usually a logical reason (if only an earlier error) buried in there somewhere.

  • Susan


    Thanks! That actually makes sense–Multnomah wasn’t part of Random House when I wrote that book, and it’s now out of print–after which Random House bought Multnomah.

    Ah, now I see. 🙂


  • Linda

    Off topic…

    Would you ever consider allowing your books to be scanned for the amazon kindle? Our twelve year old son is dyslexic. The amazon kindle 2 with it’s text to voice software, has become a valued tool in his schooling.

  • Susan

    My Norton books are already available for Kindle, and Peace Hill Press is working on making those titles Kindle-adaptable.

  • Linda

    YAY! You just made our day!

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