Monday, November 10, 2014

Beta readers and covers

The errors are usually minor: an anachronistic figure of speech, an unnecessary adjective, a missing preposition, or an incorrect date. On occasion, the mistake is (gasp!) an adverb — the asphalt of Stephen King's oft-cited road to hell.

Whatever the boo boo, I usually want to know about it. Which is why each time I finish the manuscript of a novel, I enlist the help of several volunteers to tear it apart. Each finds things others miss. All contribute something to the finished product.

For September Sky, the first novel of the American Journey series, I sought the help of ten beta readers. The group includes friends, relatives, former coworkers, subject specialists, and people who simply love the written word.

Thanks to the efforts of about half of these insightful individuals, solid early drafts have become even better later drafts. The others will take their turns between now and mid-December, when editor Aaron Yost applies the final touches. Aaron, a former newspaper colleague, has edited each of my previous novels.

September Sky also has a new cover. Laura Wright LaRoche, who produced the eye-catching cover of The Mirror, came up with a cover that I think captures the beauty and innocence of Galveston, Texas, the day before it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900.

My sixth novel is tentatively scheduled for an early January launch.

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