64 – Writing Books for a Big 5 Publisher, with Susan Meissner
“Write a great book that fits the market… one that concentrates on universal, timeless themes.”
That’s Susan Meissner’s secret sauce for writing for a “Big 5” general market publisher.
After penning nine novels for the Christian market, Susan migrated to the general market, and has written seven historicals, with another one in the hopper.
Her latest novel, The Nature of Fragile Things, earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly.
Susan and I discuss her evolution as an author:
- How the love of writing and the itch to write a novel led Susan to her first publisher.
- How she discovered her “lane” as a historical fiction author.
- How she found her ideal reader in the general market and forged connections there.
- How she continues to build her readership.
- How she “raises the bar” with each new novel she writes.
- How “friend making” and promoting other authors’ books works for her.
- How increased distribution and visibility can impact an author’s income.
- How she responds to the misconception that general market novels are expected to include swearing and graphic sex scenes.
We also chat about Susan’s latest novel, The Nature of Fragile Things:
- How Susan crafted the story arc to avoid the clichéd “mail-order bride” storyline.
- How the setting of the novel impacted the life of her characters.
- How she researched the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Susan gave us a sneak peek of her work-in-progress, tentatively titled, Only the Beautiful. Due for publication in early 2023, the story focuses on the Eugenics movement in early 20th-century California. Over a period of 30 years, close to 60,000 people in the U.S. were sterilized so they could not have children.
We wrap up the episode with Susan’s valuable advice to writers. You won’t want to miss the story-behind-the-story, straight from the author’s mouth.
Books Discussed During This Episode
About Susan Meissner
Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages.
She is an author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Nature of Fragile Things, which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly; The Last Year of the War, named to Real Simple magazine’s list of best books for 2019; As Bright as Heaven, which earned a starred review in Library Journal; Secrets of a Charmed Life, a Goodreads finalist for Best Historical Fiction 2015; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014.
A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.
Visit Susan at SusanLMeissner.com, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or Instagram as @susanmeissnerauthor.
More Interviews with Fiction Writers
Giving Readers Exactly What They Want, With Karen Barnett
The Delicate Dance of Writing YA Fantasy, With Lindsay A. Franklin
“Don’t write because you want to get published. Write because you enjoy writing.” (with Tessa Afshar)
The Secret to Writing Believable Suspense Fiction, With DiAnn Mills
The Two Most Common Issues That Hold Writers Back, With Ginny L. Yttrup
Preparing for an eBook Launch, with Dianne Marie Andre
Writing for Children: Expert Tips from Diane Stortz
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