Friday 29 April 2016

Finishing The Popish Midwife

Seventeenth century Frost Fair on the Thames, London

My son pointed out to me, I haven't written a post about how it feels to finish writing The Popish Midwife. He's right. I was so busy finishing it - reading, editing, checking, writing blurbs etc - that I haven't stopped to think of what that means to me.

And now, trying to put down what it means to me, I falter. I'm unusually lost for words. I think I can't quite believe it. I can't quite get my head around that I finally got through so, so many edits and come out the other side. I started the book simply wanting to tell Elizabeth Cellier's story, but I've spent the last few years immersed in the seventeenth century, continually discovering new things in a world centuries ago. I only intended to let everyone know what an amazing woman she was, yet have been caught up in the stories of everyone around her, in politics, midwifery and in diet and details of roads and of London. I hadn't realised how many facts would have to be checked. I imagined I didn't need to know everything, only what affected her life, but found myself having to check up such details as what her friend, Lady Powys might have worn, where she lived, how far that was from the Cellier's house, what she would have seen if she walked from one house to the many things to know to even write a sentence with confidence!

And, I didn't only read Elizabeth's trial notes. I read many preceding ones and those that followed hers, because they were all of a time she would have lived through. And the reading of them provided me with so many little details I would never have gleaned from the transcripts of her trials alone, such as how Dangerfield had attended earlier trials as a witness or how various judges sitting on her trial had changed over the course of the Popish Plot. Many of the details I found were never included. The many images and broadsheets I found could not be part of the final novel [images of each character were in my Word document right up to the moment the manuscript was sent off to the publisher...beta readers were the only ones to see them within the original narrative at the moment the characters first presented themselves to me. These, I'm considering including in some newsletters, along with other interesting stuff I had to miss out for the sake of the story - see below  :-) ]

I don't know if I said in an earlier post, but some of my research revealed the proofs of certain events in Elizabeth Cellier's life, things I haven't found previously published anywhere else - let me tell you, that's a great feeling! It's like discovering some new scientific fact, or finding out who a murderer was in thriller before anyone else. Most sources said she simply 'disappeared' and was never heard about again, but what I discovered showed where she went. Yeah, feeling rather chuffed about that! :-)

So, right this moment, I've finished writing The Popish Midwife, and I'm waiting (and beginning another book, of course). I've done most of my job on the writing (who knows, it might well come back for a final edit), so now I've started do I promote myself? I sat and read blogs posts, author web pages, watched Youtube videos about what others have done. I've seen a lot of these videos. And I mean a lot! and it's making me very nervous how much work I'll have to do once the book is published (shouldn't I have done all this beforehand? shouldn't I have everything set up in place, so I can get on with writing the next book, one I'm dying to throw myself more fully into?)

Promotion. It's almost a dirty word.

Since going onto Twitter last year, I've met three kinds of writer. Some never promote themselves. They don't fill in their author page on GoodReads, Amazon, Nook, their blog etc. Even if a reader is interested in them, they wouldn't be able to find anything. Sometimes there isn't even an image of their book or a 'pinned tweet' on their Facebook or Twitter page. The other extreme is the author that sends you half a dozen 'look at my book' tweets merely for following them, then bombards you with the same advert over and over again, sometimes even directly....yeah, not going to read your book. (If you can't even say something new each tweet, I doubt you have anything original to say in a book...) This, followed by an automatic 'welcoming' tweet asking you to go like them on FB. None of it's directed at me. And, so, I don't even look at them most of the time. In theory, unlike some, I don't hold it against an author to use the latter method to get their name out there, but I've already followed, so I'm already interested! You got me!

So, there needs to be an in-between way of getting yourself known as an author, reaching out to those who might like your book, without p***ing everyone off. The method I've come across over and over on YouTube and other places is the email list. Yeah, don't you have to have folk coming to you in the first place before they can actually sign up to a list? Right, so I'm going to skip over the how to get them to come to you in the first place, because that's something I'm still not sure about. The mailing list, however, seems like a good idea, once someone comes to you and shows an interest. I do like the idea of sending interested peeps extra information...I have various satirical broadsheets and trial transcripts, as well as a poem (rarely talked about in original sources I've come across) written by EC that I transcribed, and pictures of her from various sources I'd like to share. I even found, in court records, a couple of trial manuscripts for Elizabeth's husband, Pierre, who was being sued by some customers. These, I never finished transcribing...the writing was so small, and quite difficult to read...but it's still on my 'to do' list. So, yes, I think this a good idea, and one I intend to do. I would enjoy doing this, and readers would hopefully enjoy finding out more snippets of information than we are limited to within the covers of a book.

Is this the half way between under- and over-promoting? I hope so. It would be fun to do and fun to receive. I plan on using Mailchimp for the Newsletter, but please be patient with me. I have put my toe in the water, but there seems to be so many things to do to set it up. Once it's set up, apparently, it kinda runs itself. That's what I'm aiming at anyhow. Has anyone else done this? How has it been for you? Any advice for a newbie? What do you, as a reader, think of this idea?

Hangings in London were common at the time of the Popish Plot


  1. Hey, congrats on finishing, and it sounds like you are doing great! I am currently in the middle of figuring out the promotion world, and I completely get everything you just said. I haven't done mailchimp yet, but it's on my list. Loved everything you said in this post, and I look forward to seeing you -and your books- around! Have an awesome week!

    1. Hey back, Amy and thank you for leaving a comment!
      I'm quite excited about my newsletter project at them moment...I'm doing a true-false quiz based in the seventeenth century, when Elizabeth Cellier (the Popish Midwife) was famous, and which part of her life is set out in the book's story. I also have other stuff lined up. If you're stuck for inspiration, I can highly recommend listening to the podcast by the guys at called 'Author Hangout'. Each week, they interview successful authors, and end each session with '3 things you'd tell the earlier you to do' - it's informative and inspiring, and has given me so many ideas I don't know where to start. And, I can only do one thing at the time anyhow :-D

      They also have a good, inexpensive tool for getting reviews and a couple of free books - well worth the time spent going through all of them (I listen to the podcast while I'm driving to and from work and walking the dogs! :-D )
      Looking forward to seeing you and your books around too. So glad we met :-)