The History of the (Whole) World

my progress as I write, revise, send to my editor, re-revise, fact-check, galley-read, and promote my books, including (but not limited to) a multi-volume history of the world. While living on a farm, educating my kids, and teaching. And doing a few other things too.

The History of the (Whole) World header image 4

A new Peace Hill venture

January 14th, 2014 by Susan

For those of you who are sheep, wool, or knitting enthusiasts…I now have a farm store!

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I’ve been raising Leicester Longwool sheep and Angora goats as a break from my writing duties. We’ve learned how to skirt the fleeces (prepare them for processing) and have found a wonderful Maryland fiber mill to spin the wool into a gorgeous custom blend. Check out our wool offerings by clicking here.


Also notice that if you’d like a lamb of your own, we’re expecting LOTS of them in the spring…

Tags: 2 Comments

The barn thermometer, this morning.

January 7th, 2014 by Susan


I feel no further words are necessary…

Tags: 2 Comments

Thanks, Belgium!

November 19th, 2013 by Susan

So this popped up this morning in my news feeder. It’s this week’s Top Ten Audiobook History Downloads on iTunes:


Hey, I’m number 8!

But only in Belgium.

I’m really curious now…and, perhaps, planning a trip to Brussels…

Tags: 4 Comments

Publication day, sort of.

September 22nd, 2013 by Susan

Folks, tomorrow is the Official Publication Day for The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople.


…Which means nothing.

Publication day is a publishing myth. By the time publication day dawns, physical copies of the book have been floating around for weeks. Booksellers are theoretically supposed to wait until “publication day” to put books on sale, but unless the book covers an incredibly timely current-events topic or is written by J. K. Rowling, they don’t usually bother.

Even though the “official publication day” is Monday, September 23, The History of the Renaissance World has been selling from Barnes and Noble and The Strand for over a week. You could have ordered it directly from W. W. Norton two weeks ago. It started selling from Amazon with a “1-2 day processing time” on Friday. But today, 24 hours before “publication,” it’s gone to “Ships within 24 hours” status,” so I think we can safely say that it’s been published.

The only version that’s not available…? The ebook. That, which is instantaneously available and could have started selling weeks ago (since it wasn’t waiting on the printing and binding process), is being held until “publication date.”

Welcome to the irrational world of publishing.

In the meantime, if you happen to see it at your local bookstore, snap a picture for me, OK?

Tags: 7 Comments

Ken Ludwig’s How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

September 7th, 2013 by Susan

Recently, the Wall Street Journal asked me to review Ken Ludwig’s new book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare. I really, really wanted to like this book. And for the first few chapters I loved it. And then…

By the time I got to Chapter 37’s instructions on memorizing Hamlet’s soliloquies (“that possibility—that death would bring us the nightmares of hell . . . stops us from killing ourselves”), I was pretty well convinced that children have no business reading Shakespeare, let alone memorizing it.

You can read the whole review at the Wall Street Journal online. (If you have trouble getting past the “subscribe” page, you can also google “Wise Bauer” “Fancy’s Children” and follow the top link…for some reason that brings up the full article while the above link doesn’t always. Putting your browser on “incognito” or “private” will also help. And no, that wasn’t my original title. I liked mine better.)

Tags: 13 Comments

Thank you, Audible!

August 14th, 2013 by Susan

After my readers reacted to the original recording of The History of the Ancient World, Audible pulled it and reassigned the project to John Lee, the wonderful British actor who recorded The History of the Medieval World.

It’s now available. Have a listen to the sample, because hearing John Lee say “Alulim” and “Eridu” in the same sentence is an experience that can’t be described in words.

Audible page

Tags: 3 Comments

Thanks, Barnes & Noble!

July 11th, 2013 by Susan

In the midst of Barnes & Noble’s troubles, their editorial team has managed to post a review of The History of the Renaissance World.

Tackling the entire Renaissance has overwhelmed more than one historian, but for Susan Wise Bauer, it’s just another rich project. The woman who gave us The History of the World series, The History of the Ancient World, and The History of the Medieval World has long since mastered the fine art of historical narrative. In The History of the Renaissance World, she begins the story in the final year of the eleventh century, with Christians finally in control of Jerusalem after four hundred years, and proceeds to describe the cultural, political, and military changes, sometimes rapid and often cataclysmic, that affected civilizations from England, mainland Europe and the Middle East to India and China. Nor does she neglect things mostly beyond human control, including the Great Famine, the Black Death, and the Little Ice Age. An adroit retelling of an era of great rebirth.

B&N editor, whoever you are, thanks for reading and understanding the book. (Puts you one up on the Publisher’s Weekly reviewer.)

Tags: 5 Comments

Great review from Kirkus!

June 20th, 2013 by Susan

Kirkus Reviews, one of the major pre-publication review journals, has now published its positive review of the History of the Renaissance World.

kirkus jpg

Tags: 1 Comment

Really, really, really long audiobooks

June 4th, 2013 by Susan

A little while ago, my esteemed editor forwarded me this note from Norton’s subsidiary rights department…

Audio rights for THE HISTORY OF THE RENAISSANCE WORLD have just been sold to Audible. They’ll also do the other backlist titles that are still available: THE WELL-TRAINED MIND, THE WELL-EDUCATED MIND and THE HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD.

That was very happy news. Audible bought the audio rights to the History of the Medieval World a couple of years ago and produced a lovely version read by the British actor John Lee–in fact, it won a couple of awards. People then kept asking me why the History of the Ancient World wasn’t available on audio, under the impression that I have some sort of control over the process…which I don’t. Someone’s got to buy the rights first.

So, good on Audible. Frankly, I can’t imagine how on earth they’re going to make an audio version of The Well-Trained Mind (are they going to read ALL those lists of recommendations? With the prices? And the ISBN numbers?)…but that’s their outlook.

I just saw yesterday that the Audible version of The History of the Ancient World is now available for download as well. So I clicked over to the page to check it out.


OK, do me a favor. Click here and go to the Audible page. Listen to the sample.

What do you think of the narrator?

I mean, writers are rarely completely happy with the final form of any work that’s published or produced. We always have some gripe. And as much as I like John Lee’s voice, I actually can’t listen to him read my sentences because they come out sounding all wrong to my ear. I guess I always hear them in my voice, and to have a male British voice suddenly in my head instead is just weird.

But this narrator…

Well, I won’t finish that sentence. You tell me what you think instead.

ADDENDUM, June 13: Interesting…Audible seems to have taken the audio version down. Will it reappear with another narrator? Stay tuned…

Tags: 37 Comments

BookExpoAmerica, 2013

May 31st, 2013 by Susan

This week, Peace Hill Press has a booth at BEA, inside the Norton space. I’m here along with Pattie, my intrepid executive assistant, and John, the PHP Director of Marketing and online guru.

Here’s our booth (and John, coincidentally):


and here’s another look at our smaller poster and the book covers for the complete Creative Writer series, up on the wall:


My favorite quote about BookExpo this year comes from the regular Publishers’ Lunch email that I get on a daily basis:

“Book Expo America organizers continue to pull off the nifty trick of perpetuating an annual gathering for the US book industry that no one really needs anymore but lots of people still enjoy and find valuable.”

BEA is valuable for us because other book professionals–foreign rights agents, producers of various kinds of multimedia projects, bloggers, reviewers, and booksellers– “stumble across” us and realize that we exist.

As a trade fair, BEA is useful and generates lots of interesting contacts.

As a social experience, it makes me want to run away and hide under the covers. TOO MANY PEOPLE. TOO MANY BOOKS. I’m essentially an introvert. This is JUST too MUCH.

A few pics, in lieu of a more thoughtful (and wordier–I’ve used up all my words this week) analysis…

No matter where you are in the hall, you can find Penguin. In fact, you can’t not find Penguin. But I like it. The penguins look like they’re dancing in the air. I wish I could dance in the air.


The children’s publishers have a much cheerier side of the floor. (We’re distributed by Norton, so we’re over on the grown-up side. Which is fine, since we’re one of the few publishers over there to have toys as give-aways.)


The Common Core standards had a large presence in educational publishers’ displays. Carson-Dellosa tried to make it fun. Not sure it worked.


All of the women’s bathrooms had lines. All of them. All day. I don’t understand why facilities managers can’t get a clue.


The lines for autographs were RIDICULOUS. Longer than the women’s room lines, believe it or not.

Not sure exactly how clear it is, but this line for Rick Riordan’s signing was, essentially, an all-day commitment.


And this was a really good area of the autographing floor to avoid…


You know what’s worse than eight million fans in one place?….No fans at all in your line. I don’t know who this guy is, but it made me sad.


Um…that’s kind of a downer photo to end on. But that’s the nature of BEA. As a publisher, I enjoy being there because it’s clear that the PHP books fill a need that few other publishers are addressing. As a writer? I hate it. Hate, hate, hate it. The show seems designed to point out that some writers are SUPERSTARS [insert exploding fireworks and dancing bears here] and the rest are…not. The lobby has six or eight banners which are larger than most middle-class houses, advertising Wally Lamb, John Grisham, James Patterson-ish novels. Walking into the Javitz Center, that’s what strikes you: Here are the writers that COUNT.

Which is not even true. There are thousands of us who write, love what we write, write important things, and even make a living at what we write, who will never get a five-story banner at BEA. 362 days of the year, that is absolutely fine with us. The three days of BEA, we have to struggle to remember that we also make the book world continue to rotate.

Tags: 10 Comments

And the winners are…

May 28th, 2013 by Susan

Thanks so much to all of you who posted in response to my giveaway offer, below, of the History of the Renaissance World galleys.

As I noted below, I’m going to give away three copies instead of two. So, the winners, drawn randomly from the pool of comments, are…

Jayne (“Love the books. I know the new book will be awesome!!” Thanks for that!)
Landi Martinez (“I have been waiting so long for this book!” I feel your pain.)
Daniel H. (“Even started re-reading “History of the Ancient World” to warm up for ‘Renaissance’!” A fine, fine plan.)

(Now I feel really bad about all of you who didn’t win a book.)

A couple of new updates about work and writing coming soon. Again, thank you for your enthusiasm…it is much appreciated (and very encouraging).

Tags: 1 Comment

History of the Renaissance World galleys are here!

May 22nd, 2013 by Susan



For those of you who aren’t familiar with the pre-publication process, “bound galleys” are the first-pass typeset pages of a book (“first-pass” means straight off the typesetter’s computer, pre-proofreading, pre-correction), bound with soft covers and sent out to reviewers so that they have plenty of time to see the book before publication date.

Receiving bound galleys is a mixed experience. It’s reassuring to see that the manuscript you’ve been laboring over is beginning to assume final shape. But…because bound galleys are uncorrected, there are always massive mistakes in them, and reviewers are looking at those mistakes.

This is a traditional part of the publication process, so responsible reviewers never point out typos and technical mistakes in their reviews; the assumption is that those mistakes will have been corrected in the final book. And, in fact, every bound galley says on it somewhere, “ADVANCE UNCORRECTED PROOF. Please do not quote for publication without checking against the finished book.” (Although I suspect most reviewers don’t bother.)

But there are mistakes, and there are mistakes.

In a lot of ways, these bound galleys are much cleaner than others I’ve seen. The timelines were in good shape, most of the maps and graphics were properly set, and there were no more than the usual number of dropped lines, skipped pages, missed corrections, and general flub-ups.

There were, though, two mistakes–both of which have now been corrected and will not appear in the final book–that caused me to bang my head against the nearest hard surface.

The first was (sigh) the cover. Here’s the cover…


Does that look familiar to you? It ought to–it’s the color scheme for the History of the Medieval World, just reversed. This color scheme was floated early on in the design process and I asked for it to be changed because it was far too close to the previous volume. The designer agreed and offered a different, much superior color scheme, which is in fact the picture on the back cover of the very same bound galley:


Somehow, the wrong version of the cover got sent out the door on this galley. Which just bugs me.

The second mistake…well, I named the first section of the book “Renaissances.” The plural was intentional. As the section makes clear, there is more than one “renaissance.” The typesetter then placed the title on every other page of the first section as a running head. Like this.



Argh, argh, argh.

However…having said that, if you’ll ignore the misspellings and the miscovering, the rest of it is pretty darn good. So I’m going to give away two copies of the galleys to my readers. If you’d like one, post a message here, and next week I’ll draw two names at random.

(To get you enthusiastic about what you’ll be reading, I’ve posted the table of contents right here: Final TOC Click on it for the PDF!)

UPDATE: So many of you are interested (thanks!) that I’ll give away three copies instead! I’ll close comments at 8 AM on Monday, May 27th, and announce the winners on Tuesday.

Tags: 143 Comments