Hey everyone. I am in the weeds with my final round of edits for my next book, The Summer Before. Look what my editor had to say after reading the first draft…
I breathed a GIANT sigh of relief, which became the ear-to-ear smile I needed after reading. Before sending it off, I said, “Eh, it is what it is. It’s fine if she doesn’t love it.” LIES! Of course, after I hit send, my stomach hit the floor. It was out there, my second baby, which many authors say is the most challenging. You hope it lives up to the first, exceeds it even, etc., and if it doesn’t and it’s total crap, maybe you’re not a writer. Perhaps you just had one story to get out into the world, and that’s it—it’s over.
Although I tell myself that would be fine once again, I am lying. It wouldn’t be acceptable. I want the whole deal. We even moved into a beautiful post-and-beam home that is fairly secluded, and my first thought was this is a writer’s home. How could I not be a writer and have this home? What about my awards? Should they still hang if I’m not “a writer?” What would I do if I’m not writing? Just sit and stare, clean… complain. These are my spiraling thoughts as I pressed send, and my book sailed into the abyss, and I could no longer keep it just for me and my varying opinions. One day it’s a masterpiece; the next, it’s garbage. But it would be my garbage that no one would know about. So I am breathing… and saving my energy for the coming spiral as I enter the query trenches again.
For any of you interested who don’t already know, a query letter is a one-two page letter you send to literary agents and/or publishers to tell them all about your book and yourself, trying to stand out among kazillions attempting to convince them you are the next Delia Owens, Colleen Hoover, Steven King or whoever will make a bazillion dollars. It’s quite a road, friends, and not to mention the slowest industry in the world. I’ve received answers to my queries, if at all, over a year later. And without further ado, here it is… My query for The Summer Before. What do you think?
Dear (Agent’s Name,)
THE SUMMER BEFORE is a 70,000-word contemporary women’s novel that follows a young woman in modern Boston as she recalls a years-ago summer in Martha’s Vineyard, when dark family secrets ripped two girls’ friendship apart, and threatened to tear the whole family to shreds.
Madeline and Summer are more than best friends. They might as well be sisters; they’ve claimed the title, anyway—and sisters tell each other everything. But Summer has a secret she’s been hiding for years. Someone’s been hurting her, someone close, and when it comes out, it destroys everything around her with the wrath of dying stars.
Years later, Madeline is a haunted young woman trying to build a new life in Boston. After the guilt of more than staying silent—but her involvement when her friend needed her the most—brings her to the brink of suicide, Madeline embarks on a journey to heal from the aftermath of that summer. To resume her life, she must let go of her past, and for that, she must confront her father, her mother, and all those involved with the trial that split her family apart.
I am a gritty New Englander, registered nurse, and author. My multi-award-winning debut novel, The Silence in the Sound, published by Koehler Books, was released in 2022 and won the NYC Big Book Award and Pencraft Award. It was also named Best Debut Fiction by Reader Views and is a Chanticleer, Somerset Award finalist. My book has given me a platform to speak about the devastating effects of growing up in addiction throughout New England and beyond. I’ve also contributed to numerous online and printed publications and am currently earning my degree in creative writing.
THE SUMMER BEFORE is a story about those caught in the ripple effect of tragedy and trauma, whose lives are impacted alongside the victims, and whose journey to heal and recover is no less complex. It will appeal to readers of All Girls by Emily Layden and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell with a touch of television’s A Friend of the Family, a disturbing and confounding miniseries that reaches all the nuances and complexities involved in the crime of sexual assault.
I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Dianne C. Braley
Since your Query was perfectly written, I know that your second book, The Summer Before, will be an an even bigger hit than your first, The Silence In The Sound.