Friday, May 10, 2013

Query Kombat Submission Guidelines

Edit: Query Kombat submission is closed.

I’m so excited because submissions for Query Kombat will start on Monday, May 13th and that’s just a few days away! (Excuse me while I squeal like a crazy person!) Below is a refresher of the submissions guidelines. Take care. Entries sent before the submission window opens will be deleted unopened. Entries that don’t follow the guidelines will also be deleted. Knowing how writers worry, confirmation emails will be sent to ensure we got your submission and it didn’t end up in Siberia.

You should also know that Mike, SC, and I have very different tastes so that should insure a large variety in what makes the contest cut.

Party Time!

But all that is so boringly technical. How about some fun first? If you are chosen for Query Kombat there will be up to eleven judges going through your matchups. The very same cool judges we boasted about last week (here).

Kontestants get to invent amazing nicknames, naturally the judges want one, too! It’s not fair for Kontestants to hog all the fun. So our judges will be commenting and voting as their dual-personality self. To recognize our wonderful judges and know the vote is legit here is a list of the names they’ve chosen:


Who is who? That would be telling, but perhaps you can figure them out. Now, onward to the fine and gory details:

The tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation. Your manuscript must be complete, polished, and ready to submit. Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted. No picture books or non-fiction.

The submission window will open at 11AM EST on Monday, May 13th and close at 11AM Friday, May 17th OR WHEN WE RECEIVE 225 ENTRIES. You may submit entries for two manuscripts (in the same email) but we will only consider the second entry if less than 64 entries are received. Kontestants will be revealed May 24th and the tournament will kick off on May 28th on Michelle’s blog.

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow those guidelines will be considered. In the event that we receive more than the available spots, hosts will be assigned a group of queries and pick the best of their group. We will also select a few alternates. Sixty-four queries will enter into the tournament.

Send entries to: QueryKombat (at) yahoo (dot) com

Formatting guidelines:

Times New Roman, 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No indents or tabs.

Subject line of the Email: A short, unique nickname for your entry [colon] your genre (audience included). Do not skip this step or your entry will be deleted. Example:

Happy Hamsters: MG Fantasy

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament brackets and post headings so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way. Nicknames are limited to 2
5 characters!

***The four Free Pass winners should include “Free Pass” before their nickname in the subject line to ensure their spot.

In the body of the email (bold where bold):

Name: Michelle Hauck
Email address:

Entry Nickname: Happy Hamsters

Title: Pygmy Hazards
Word count: 34,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


Tom, the classroom hamster, wants to escape from the h-e double hockey sticks known as school. There he’s sentenced to never-ending show ‘n tell, math facts rap, and story time. But he’s learned a lot behind the bars of his cage. The giant in the dress thinks she is running the show, when the chatterbox pygmies are really in control. Playing house during activity time is no job for a tough guy. Somehow Tom has to get away before the pygmies dress him as Strawberry Shortcake again.

When a “subspatoot” fills in for the giant, Tom sees his chance to put Operation Escape the Pygmies into action. He makes a run for the border, hamster style. Bad news. The principal says Tom is a distraction to learning and better off flushed. The way out is turned into a battlefield of snapping mousetraps, sticky snares, and poisoned pellets. Tom seems doomed until a friendless pygmy named Squeezer lends an over-excited hand. Now, the greatest obstacle to his freedom may be Tom’s soft spot for this lonely pygmy.

(Only include the meat of your query. No bio. Queries may be up to 350 words, but 250 is strongly preferred. Names and emails address of Kontestants will not be posted.)

First 250 words:

(Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a sentence. You may go over the 250 limit to finish a sentence.)

Simple, huh?

All queries submitted are FINAL. We will not edit them in any way, shape, or form. Please read, reread, and rereread your submission before you hit send. Unless you make it into the third round, you will not have another opportunity to edit your query or first 250 words. You have several days to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Put on your thick skin and get those submissions—Ready! Set! Go on May 13!


  1. Not that you have time but I nominated you for a Liebster Award over at my blog "I had a little nut-tree..." Just keepin' the fun rolling from "The Writer's Voice" I guess. Play along if you like or if not--that's okay too. Not everyone has time to link up eleven blahgs and answer my inane questions.
    Just Jill
    Oh--I'm totally pumped for the Kombat!

  2. Hello Michelle,

    Thanks for posting all of this fabulous information!--we are so so *EXCITED* for Query Kombat!! :)

    We were preparing this evening (getting our email all set so we can hit send Monday, 11am EST :) ) and had a quick formatting question for you:

    We use Gmail (and also have a Yahoo account) but neither of those email services offer Times New Roman or 12 point font (well Yahoo does offer 12 pt font but Google only has the equivalent which is "Normal"). After copying Times New Roman and 12 point font into our Gmail directly from a word doc, we sent a couple “test” emails to both a Gmail and Yahoo account. Unfortunately, when the emails arrived they were no longer in Times New Roman or 12 point font. ***Also we have noticed sometimes sending from one email service to another creates wonky spacing/formatting.

    Anyway, we certainly DO want to follow all directions :) and we DO NOT want to be eliminated from Query Kombat because of we were wondering how best to proceed…should we just put our email in “Serif” and “Normal” size? Or is there a special way to import "Times New Roman" as a font into Gmail/Yahoo?

    Sorry to be a bother! We are just so excited and can’t wait for the Kombat to begin!

    Thank you again Michelle!!
    Carol Blackley & Megan Herman

    1. We understand firsthand about crazy email problems, believe me. Get as close as you can to the guidelines. The important part is including everything we require, the subject line, and putting your information in the right order.

    2. Phew! :) Thank you so much for easing our fears--hehe! :)
      We can't wait for Monday.......let the Kombat begin!! ding ding ding!!

      Much thanks,
      Carol Blackley & Megan Herman

  3. Darn it...still trying to decide if I'm going to enter or not *sigh*

    1. I hope you'll enter. I think it will be fun. But if you don't enter, you can still comment.

  4. Hey Michelle, Just writing to let you know there were two different ways of formatting entries names and such listed on this blog and a previous blog. Sometimes contests are very particular about these things, and I just hoped you would take that into consideration when you notice mine is formatted differently than what's listed above. Sigh. Sorry to be a nit-pickin' nervous nelly, but I'm developing a twitchy-eye over my formatting fiasco.
    Thanks, Jill

  5. Great judges line-up Michelle, thanks for doing this. I was following the old submission guidelines and missed the 'bold where bold' which means.... I'm basically bold-less. Hope I won't get scratched :(

  6. Ditto to what TJ said. Got a sinus infection & have been in allergy hell since Monday morning. But even if I don't, will be cheering everyone on from the sidelines. :)

  7. Question: My ms is with an agent right now that asks for exclusives on requested material. Is it ok to enter query combat or is that unprofessional?

    1. I probably wouldn't enter unless the exclusive will be over by May 28th. That's when the first round starts.

    2. Bummer ): I'll just cheer from the sidelines then!

  8. Similar question: my ms currently has a query out, and has not hit their respond by time. Should a query be considered binding, therefor preventing participation?

    1. Query letters are not expected to be exclusive. You can enter.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Assumption here — we can only submit manuscripts for a novel?

    I have a short (9000 wds) story that I'm really proud of and a novel that I still think needs some work...what do you think?

  10. Fair enough!
    It seemed unlikely, but not specifically forbidden in the rules.
    Thanks for the speedy reply!

  11. I have five queries out and a couple of non-exclusive requests in agents' hands at this moment. Should I withdraw? I don't want to spoil anyone's chance - especially if I am violating the rules by participating with a full and partial still out there in agent land. Thanks-Rob

    1. You may enter with outstanding requests. But let us know right away if you receive an offer. In that case we would pull your entry.

  12. I submitted using the original formatting; should I resubmit using the adjusted format?