Jennifer Hillier

Which query got me my agent?

Mar 8, 2010 | Uncategorized

Many of you have asked to see my query, which of course I understand because it’s always interesting to see the query that helped get a writer her agent. Of course, it’s ultimately not the reason I got my agent, but it is how I got her attention.

But before I tell you, I thought we could have some fun. There are actually three versions of my query for CREEP floating around out there. I’ve posted them all below. You’ll notice two are sort of similar stylistically, and one is vastly different.

Take a guess which one got me my agent! (Keep in mind that these are not necessarily presented in the order I sent them.) And, after you’ve guessed, I’d be interested know which one you would have requested had you been an agent looking to represent thrillers.


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Version A:

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.
* * * * *
Version B:
CREEP, a psychological thriller, is complete at 106,000 words.
When Dr. Sheila Tao wakes up chained in the basement of a killer’s house, she knows she’s finally hit rock bottom.
A popular psychology professor in Seattle, nobody knows Sheila is a recovering sex addict in therapy, not even her NFL center-turned-investment banker fiancé, Morris. On the surface, Sheila is the picture of professionalism, a well-liked educator who genuinely cares about her students. But she’s far from perfect, and far from recovered, as her three-month affair with Ethan Wolfe confirms.
Ethan is her teaching assistant and almost two decades her junior. Sheila ends the affair when Morris proposes, but the break-up doesn’t go smoothly. It turns out Ethan Wolfe has secrets of his own, and he doesn’t take rejection well.
Most serial killers don’t.
Trapped in her ex-lover’s state-of-the-art kill room, Sheila must figure out a way to survive long enough for someone to find her.
The only problem is, nobody’s looking. Because nobody thinks she’s missing.
* * * * *
Version C:
Everything bad that’s happened to popular psychology professor Sheila Tao is her own damn fault.
Had she told her investment banker fiancé about her sex addiction from the beginning, maybe he wouldn’t have walked out a week before their wedding.
Had she not had an affair with her student, Ethan Wolfe, maybe her career at the university wouldn’t be dangling by a thread.
Had Ethan Wolfe not been the serial killer responsible for the deaths of several homeless women in the Seattle area, maybe Sheila wouldn’t be shackled to a bed in his state-of-the art kill room, wondering how the hell she could have been so stupid.
Complete at 106,000 words, CREEP is a character-driven psychological thriller that explores what happens when you cheat on your fiancé with Hannibal Lecter.
* * * * *

So, which query got my agent’s attention?  Click here.