When I started the research for Herstory, Stories of the Women of East Haddam through the Centuries, I thought I would have trouble finding information on the seventeenth century but after I started to fill out my outline, I realized I had as much for the seventeenth century as for the eighteenth and nineteenth.
About the time I was considering the organization of my research, I attended a writer’s conference. Two of the speakers, one a literary agent and the other a writer, said that publishers like series. They also said that if you self-publish the first book of a series, if you run an effective book promotion platform, and if your book receives some attention, there is a chance a publisher will pick up the rest of the series. I just love synergy of having information comes my way just when I am making a decision.
This added another dimension to my thinking. When I was planning the Herstory project, I worried that reading about three centuries of women might be too much for a reader to manage at one time. Could I make the stories different enough to keep a reader’s interest through 300 years? It is a legitimate concern.
After looking at it from the readers’ perspective, it became easy to make the decision to break Herstory into three separate books, one on each century.
Before I made a final decision, I emailed individuals whose opinions I respect and explained that I was considering turning Herstory into a series of three books. I gave them my reasons for doing this and they all agreed with me that it made sense to separate the centuries.
I think it is important for writers to reach out to others before making major decisions. As writers, we are somewhat isolated and when we get involved in a project we can develop blinders that narrow our view and shield us from the whole picture.
From my perspective, breaking Herstory into three segments made the project a little less daunting. I could focus on one century at a time, although while researching that is almost impossible to do. It does help me keep myself from straying too far from my research plan. A book on the seventeenth century, of course, is not the amount of work a book on three centuries would be. I have to admit I felt a little relieved.
Working on one century at a time also makes it easier to approach resources with request for information on the seventeenth century. So on I go in my quest.