I am seeking representation for CREEP, a psychological thriller, complete at 106,000 words.
Dr. Sheila Tao is one of Seattle’s most popular psychology professors. She’s also a closet sex addict. And when she wakes up chained in the basement of a killer’s house, she knows she’s hit rock bottom.
When her three-month affair with her teaching assistant ends, Sheila vows to get her life back on track. She recommits to her twelve-step Sex Addicts Anonymous program. She says yes when her investment banker boyfriend proposes. She makes wedding plans.
But Ethan Wolfe can’t move forward so easily. He didn’t pursue his professor for as long as he did to get dumped for some balding, middle-aged suit. That’s not according to plan, and Ethan doesn’t take rejection well.
Most serial killers don’t.
Kidnapped by Ethan a week before her wedding, Sheila reels from the revelation that her former lover is actually the monster responsible for the murders of several women in the Seattle area. And now Sheila’s own days are numbered, if Ethan’s state-of-the-art kill room is any indication.
With her arms and legs bound, Sheila fights back with the only weapon she has: her mind. Using everything she’s learned as a psychologist, she must peel back the layers of Ethan’s façade to find out who he really is—and what drives him—if she hopes to survive long enough for someone to find her.
There’s just one glitch: nobody’s looking. Because nobody thinks she’s missing.
Good eye, guys! I’m impressed! Version A is indeed the query I sent to my agent, who then requested the full.
But my personal favorite? Version C. In my humble opinion, it had the most voice and the most spirit, and it took the least amount of time to write (about twenty minutes). To me, Version C is the best representation of the style of my book.
The version I liked the least? Version B, which was actually the first version I sent out. And since none of you picked it, it looks like you guys didn’t like it much, either. I’m sure we can all agree it had no voice. It was all tell, no show, and while I think I did an okay job of getting the idea of the book across, I don’t think it showed the flavor of the book at all. So I eventually rewrote it and came up with Version A.
But here’s the thing: all three versions so far have generated a 10% request rate. This may change over the next couple of months as more responses trickle in (because it’s only been about seven weeks since I sent out my last batch), but as of today, all three versions got the same results.
So what have I learned from all this?
1). Queries are subjective. A query that will turn off one agent could very well turn on another. It will resonate or it won’t. And you have about 30 seconds to pitch as best you can and find out.
2). At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your request rate is (and at 10%, I’m told mine is decent, but certainly nothing to brag about). If your book isn’t up to snuff, you will not get an agent. You can write a killer query, generating a 30% request rate (and yes, I’ve seen stats like these on the writer’s forum I belong to), but what’s the point if you haven’t polished your novel? I spent a lot of time on my query, sure I did. As I should have. Days and days and days. But I spent a year and a half on my book. My agent liked my query enough to request the full manuscript. Once she did, the book had to stand on its own, and the query no longer mattered. Ergo,there’s no point in writing a query that’s better than your book.
So for my writer friends, here’s my advice. Don’t sweat the query. Sweat the book.