Writing a novel is hard.
Writing a historical novel has its own unique challenges.


I love coaching historical fiction.

But my schedule is full at the moment, so I’m starting a waiting list.

I know, it’s a good problem to have. And I have it partly because I want to give all the writers I work with my concentrated attention—whether they’re just starting a manuscript, trying to finish it, or starting to revise.

So it happens that I can’t take on any new clients until January, 2022.

I’d still love to know if you’re interested, and would be thrilled if you’d complete the form at the button below. As a thank-you for your patience, you’ll receive a coupon for half off my Rein in Your Research self-paced course. It’s a good way to discover some tips and tricks to help you make sure your research serves your story—with exercises and worksheets to keep you productive while you wait.

In many ways, writing a historical novel is just like writing any other kind of fiction.

Except when it’s not.

There’s the delicate balance between fiction and fact. The necessity to make the story fulfill all the requirements of page-turning fiction without distorting history.

Then there’s the research: so much to know, so much to discover, too much to deal with.

That’s why I was so excited when I became an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. In addition to my own writerly instincts and editorial skills, my experience with research and writing historical fiction, I bring a whole arsenal of fabulous tools to the table for my coaching clients.

Coaching isn’t the same as editing—although being a good editor is vital to being a good coach. When I coach writers, we have an ongoing relationship over time with deadlines and Zoom calls every step of the way. I become a mentor, a friend, someone to cheer you on as you triumph and commiserate when things get difficult.

You’ll see below what some of my clients have said after working with me. I consider it a great privilege to have worked with all of them.

If you would like to know more about how book coaching could help you get started, get unstuck, or revise your historical fiction manuscript, just fill out the form at the button below. We’ll have an informal conversation—it’s up to you to decide where we take it from there.

Susanne Dunlap is a warm, encouraging book coach who emphasizes what is good and special in your work, and then works with you to bring the story into its best and most marketable form. Because she herself is not only an editor but a multi-published and well regarded novelist, she understands what it is like to create something, take it apart, and form it again until it lands on a publisher’s list of acquired books and eventually on the perfect reader’s nightstand.

Stephanie Cowell, Author of CLAUDE AND CAMILLE and MARRYING MOZART, American Book Award Winner

New! An Introduction to coaching: The Historical Fiction Story Audit

Want to get a sense of whether your story is working or will work as compelling fiction—and see what book coaching is like? This affordable coaching package will give you a high-level view of how your fundamentals are aligned with the story you want to tell and the market.

There are so many ways I can help you:

I can help you get started:

The 4-deadline Blueprint Program is a great way to start your brainstorming about your project, even if you’re at the very beginning and haven’t written a word. It’s full of smart tools to get those creative juices flowing and help you see your project from the very start, including figuring out what you need to research for your story.

I can help you keep Going:

Ongoing coaching puts a cheerleader, editor, and taskmaster—a whole team in your corner as you get those words on the page. You can start here, or do the Blueprint Program first. This is a 12-deadline intensive program to help you get that draft finished, revised, or polished.

I can help you cross the Finish Line:

When you’ve already got a draft and you need fresh eyes to help you revise, it’s a great time to talk to me about coaching you through your revision.

Hear what some of my book coaching clients have to say:

I have learned so much from working with Susanne. She strikes the perfect balance between encouragement and valuable instruction and feedback. Susanne brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her coaching. It is so helpful to sit at the feet of someone who has climbed the mountain. Most importantly, she has helped me rediscover hope in my writing and the joy and wonder of crafting compelling fiction. 

Jake Chism

Susanne is a joy to work with. She led me from a little glimmer of an idea for a book to a full fledged book proposal—and she did it all with an abundance of insight, good will, and grace. She knows what agents and publishers are looking for—as well as what makes for a truly compelling book—and her feedback is always spot on. She is an amazing guide and champion. I literally could not have done this without her!

Amelia Perkins

When [my book club] asked about the feelings and the labor of [my book] Keep Calm, I realized that you coached me in writing the most important self help book I’ll ever read. So I am boxing up all the other self help books lining my bookshelf and donating to the Friends of the Library sale store.

Susan Spector

I’ve been writing historical fiction for nearly 20 years.

So I understand the challenges—and the rewards. I know what it’s like to do hours and days and weeks of research and realize you don’t necessarily need it. I know how agonizing it can be to be true to history, but still make sure the story works in all the ways fiction has to work. I started with historical fiction when I got my PhD from Yale in music history. So many remarkable stories to tell, especially about the forgotten women. 

I’d love to be your ally in making your historical world come to life for readers!

Advanced Book Coach Certification

I am an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach in both fiction and nonfiction, which means I have fulfilled the requirements of two rigorous courses and submitted practicums. I’m privileged to be among the premier community of book coaching professionals!

Interested in becoming an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach? Take the first step!


What is book coaching? How is it different from hiring an editor?

Book coaching is an ongoing relationship based on meeting pre-determined deadlines that include reading and commenting on pages; doing exercises to help focus your project on your genre, audience, and market; and having regular, scheduled conversations to discuss your work. It’s like having a cheerleader, project manager, editor, and friend by your side every step of the way as you reach your writing goals—whether it’s finishing that novel, finally writing your memoir, or putting together a top-notch book proposal that gets your expertise in front of readers to build your business.

The right book coach can help you conquer the challenges of writing your book. It’s a way to ensure that your book is in the best shape it can be—for submission to agents and editors or for self-publishing. And a book coach is also an experienced, professional editor.

I love working with writers at all different stages in the process and at all different levels—from those who have never written a book before, to those with publication credits under their belts and who just need specific help meeting a deadline.

How do you choose a book coach?

A book-coaching relationship is personal, one-to-one. Not all coaches are a fit for all writers. That’s why the relationship has to start with a conversation. After you complete an intake questionnaire, we’ll get on the phone or have a video call to talk about your goals and expectations.

If we work together, I will help you make a plan for your work with concrete deadlines, usually every two weeks. Each deadline includes a written review of your material and a half-hour call to talk about my comments and let you ask questions and share how it’s all going.

If you think book coaching might be the right answer for you, contact me using the form below. There’s no obligation, of course. 

Will you help me write a bestseller?

The short answer is that there are no guarantees in publishing. Success in the market depends on so many variables that can have nothing to do with the quality of your book. Very few writers make those bestseller lists.

What I can do is help you write the best book you can, whether you’re going to submit to agents, self-publish, or hybrid publish your book. I can guarantee that I will bring to our working relationship all my experience as a published author and an expert editor who understands the mechanics and psychology of storytelling.

I put my whole heart into working with authors, and seeing you meet the milestones you set is one of my greatest satisfactions.