Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Penny Dreadfuls

I was just thinking today as I made dinner that Kindle was something like the "penny dreadfuls" of the late 1800's and early 1900's. These were simple, inexpensive and not terribly high quality literature. For a penny, in the UK, or a few cents in the US, you could buy an inexpensive paperback that could cover anything from the life of Billy the Kid to the exploits of Aston Marshe ace detective.

Most of these volumes have disappeared into a well-deserved obscurity. However a surprising number of well-regarded authors made their start with "penny dreadfuls." P.G. Wodehouse is one of the best examples; you can find his early work on Gutenberg press and it isn't up to the quality of his later work (to put it nicely). Similarly, even lesser lights like Edgar Rice Burroughs show considerable improvement from their first awful efforts to their prime. (I know Tarzan and Thuvia, maid of Mars aren't great literature, but they are fun.)

I'm beginning to think that E-publishing serves the same purpose. I hope my first book Katherine's Choice is great literature. I certainly enjoyed writing it and it is a good read. That said, it's probably a bit of  a hack job in reality and a stepping stone to what I can really do as I learn my craft.

Anyway, I'm a pretty good hash slinger so there is hope for me yet.