I recently documented the marketing mistakes that I made when I released my novels. I have been very fortunate to receive some great marketing coaching from Octavia Randolph, author of the Circle of Ceridwen saga — a series of eleven novels set, like my Cuthbert’s People novels, in the Anglo-Saxon period in England. After extensive discussions, Octavia has made a number of suggestions about how my series should have been marketed, and I am considering reissuing the books with a number of changes in order to take advantage of that advice and hopefully grow my audience and my sales.
I can only speak for myself, but here are my thoughts.
I like the new synopsis. It captures the tension of the time period.
I like the new series name. "Cuthbert's People" never evoked anything for me (mostly because I didn't get the reference), and I think "The Daughters of Twyford" would do a better job preparing readers for the fact that we're focusing on a few main characters here rather than a whole settlement. It also gently prepares readers to read about women in this time period, whose possibilities in life were often tied to their marriages.
Regarding whether you should bill yourself as a historical fiction writer, or a theme writer, or any particular kind of writer, my advice is this: If I like an author enough, I'll follow them to genres I would never typically explore. I think making yourself known for historical fiction, which you partly chose because it allows for examining the themes you enjoy, is a good first step. If you later write a thematically similar book in another genre, loyal fans will follow.
My 2 cents: I LOVE the new synopses and series name. I didn't get the reference for Cuthbert's People (and actually, as a lifelong fan of Anne of Green Gables, it always made me think of the characters Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert of late 19th century Canada, haha!) As far as titles, I do, admittedly like the new title suggestions. However, I think you could fit St. Agnes and the Selkie in with the new titles and still keep that coveted review. I also think--and this comes from observation as a reader, not experience--you'll do yourself a favor marketing books and series very specifically to their target readers, especially if you as an author plan to hop genres. If each book is clear as to what genre it is, then readers won't feel duped, and readers who like multiple genres (like I do) will follow you as an author. Does that make sense? Thank you for sharing your journey with us!