Monday, May 23, 2011

We Should Call Them Dime Novels

I was reading a great Wikipedia article the other day. It was all about dime novels. Dime novels were cheap, paperback adventures popular from around 1860 to 1915.  From what I could glean, they averaged about 30K words in length. That's about 1/3 the length of your average novel.

And that's exactly what should be priced at a buck: 30K word works. And they should be called dollar novels—not novellas—because the "dollar" in "dollar novels" sets the bar for what a reader should expect to get for a dollar: 30,000 well-crafted words. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Now, before someone ties me to a pike and roasts me, recall that a lot of us new-wave authors embrace the term "indie" for a reason. And I'm not suggesting this idea should be enforced in any sort of way. Only that writers might want to consider the term to differentiate between their 30-40K works and 80-120K works.

I'm considering writing a short-form 30K work myself. I'd love to get your opinions on the concept.


Update #1: Turns out that Stanford has a collection of dime novels. A few are available online. Pretty good reading. Check 'em out.

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