Friday, April 15, 2016

Query Kombat Submission Instructions 2016

Bloggers Laura, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the fourth annual Query Kombat tournament.

The Basics

Query Kombat will host 64 kombatants in a single-elimination, tournament style query-off. Entries will go head to head(one on one) with one another until only ONE entry remains. There will be a total of six rounds in Query Kombat. 64 entries in round one, 32 in round two,16 in round three, 8 in round four, 4 in round five, and 2 in round six.

Unlike traditional tournaments, we won't be using tournament brackets. Entries will be matched up based on target audience and genre. We'll continue grouping that way until it's no longer possible.

If you secure a spot in the tournament, your query and the first 250 words of your manuscript (to the end of a complete sentence) will be pitted against another query and first 250 words. Judges will read each match-up and vote 'Victory' on the best entry. Remember, this is subjective. Considering last year, votes may come down to personal tastes.

The entry with the most ‘victories’ at the end of the round will advance to the next round until only one champion remains.

The agent round will be held after the first round. That mean the top 32 entries will make it to the agent round.

Of course, there's a twist!

The agent round will be conducted in secret. And by secret, we mean TOP SECRET. Entrants won't know who requested what—or how much—until that entrant has been eliminated from the contest.

On the plus side, winners of the first round will be able to submit and updated entry prior to the agent round. So, any feedback the judges give can be implemented before the agents see your work.

Who’s Invited to Submit:

The Query Kombat tournament is open only to unagented writers seeking representation. Your manuscript must be complete, polished, and ready to submit.

If your manuscript has already been in the agent round of another contest in the last six months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. (UPDATE: Note this doesn't apply toward Twitter Pitch events or one agent contests like Miss Snark's First Page. Only multi-agent blog contests.) Please don’t try to sneak in. The QK team includes about fifty people and a few hundreds of spectators. Someone will notice and inform us. Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted. (Sorry no picture books or chapter books this year.) Only one entry per person. Do not attempt to submit more than one entry by using different email accounts. Again, the QK family is huge. Someone will notice.


The submission window will open May 16th at 9:00 AM Eastern time and close on May 20th at Noon.

We will have email confirmation. If you don't receive it within an hour of submitting your entry, contact us via twitter and let us know. Kontestants will be revealed on May 27th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

IMPORTANT: The Query Kombat team reserves the right to disqualify any entrant at any time for any reason.If an entrant is disqualified before the agent round, an alternate will take its place. If an entrant is disqualified after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. The only time we will ever disqualify an applicant is if you say or do something to blemish the spirit of query contests. Query Kombat is supposed to be fun…

So none of this!

In order to enter the contest you MUST follow formatting guidelines, and submit during the contest window. All entries that follow said guidelines will be considered. 

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Laura, and I will savagely attack the slush pile in attempts to build the best team. We will pick (and announce) three alternates in case a submission is disqualified.

Entries should be sent to:  QueryKombat (at) gmail (dot) com.

Formatting Guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman (or an equivalent), 12pt font, single-spaced with spaces between each paragraph. No (I repeat: NO!) indentations.
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. (ex. I Fell in Love with a
Ken Doll: Adult Erotica)

For the nickname, make it as unique as possible so that there are no duplicates. These will be the names used in the tournament (or an abbreviated version if it's too long) so keep it PG-13 and try to have it relate to your story in some way.

In the body of the email (with examples):

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Name: Michael Anthony
Email address: myboyfriendwasbittenbyashark (at) gmail (dot) com.
Twitter Handle: @Michelle4Laughs

Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Doll
Word count: 68K
Genre: Adult Erotica


I FELL IN LOVE WITH A KEN DOLL tells the harrowing story of Barbra B. Doll, a US senator who goes against country, family, and the Illumaniti to be with an amateur surfer with no genitalia. 

First 250 words:

Words, words, and more words.

Don't include the chapter title and please, don't stop in the middle of a. Do not include a bio or comp title.

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. You have several weeks to polish your work. Take advantage of it. Competition will be fierce.

Host Blogs:

Because the immense amount of work ahead of us, the tournament will be hosted on three separate blogs. In order to enter the contest, you MUST following Michael, Michelle, and Laura's blogs (Twitter is cool too). All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Michelle and Laura. The third round will be hosted by Michael. The fourth round will be hosted by Laura. The fifth round will be hosted by Michelle. The final round will be hosted by Michael. Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon. (As of now we have 22 agents and 34 judges!)

Questions can be left in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as possible.

One last thing and this is new: 

Contests are very time-consuming (we've already spent hours of time), and in order to continue hosting each year, we’re asking everyone who enters to give a $5-$10 donation when submitting. Asking for donations is one way to ensure we’re able to give you the time needed to carefully consider every entry. Chosen Kontestants receive feedback from up to 30 agented/published writers on their query and first page, plus the ability to query agents they otherwise may not have connected with. Some agents even read requested contest entries before the rest of their slush pile! Everyone, chosen or not, receives free slush tips from the hosts and the camaraderie that develops from entering contests together. Many writers find life long critique partners and good friends from these contests (I did).

Because of this, we are holding the sub window open much longer and no longer restricting the number of entries.

Donating this year is strictly voluntary. Giving a donation
does not increase your chances of being picked. Giving less than $5 or more than $10 will also have no impact on your chances. Donating will not affect how many rounds a person makes it through if chosen. People who are not able to donate will not be disqualified.

Please see the blog sidebar for the link to donate. Also note that a percentage of the donations will be given to Flint Kids to help the children of Flint. 

Thanks for your understanding.
Best of luck in the tournament!

If anyone finds this Easter Egg, contact me on twitter and I will send you a free paperback of GRUDGING. 


  1. Hi Michelle -- is there a word count for the query itself? And am I understanding correctly that we're to include the first 250 words of the MS, with no chapter title? Thank you!

    1. There is no word count limit for the query, but a good rule is less than 300 words. Yes, include the first 250 words. Don't waste the 250 words by including chapter titles.

  2. Michelle: If we were in the agent round for NOQS are we ineligible to participate? You said six months ago and that will have been seven once Query Kombat opens. Thanks!

    1. It should be okay, but check the list of agents to make sure you haven't queried them all. The list will be posted in May.

    2. Thank you.

  3. I'm excited to enter. Even if I don't win, I look forward to getting valuable feedback for my next query.

  4. Michelle,
    For the actual query we post in the body of the email, do you want us to use the entry nickname or the actual manuscript title? Thanks!

    1. Placing your title in the query letter isn't really necessary as that information will be above where it asks for your name and twitter handle. But you can put either in your query if you still want to do so.

  5. "you MUST following Michael, Michelle, and Laura's blogs"

    Can you provide info/links on how to do so? Thanks.

    1. The links to our blogs are at the top of this post on our names. For mine and Mike's, you click the "join this site" button in the sidebar. For Laura's, put your email where it says "Subscribe."

  6. Michelle, does it matter when during the submission window we send? That is, does a May 20th entry have as much chance as a May 16th entry, or might the window be closed earlier than posted if there are too many entries? Thank you.

    1. The window won't close before May 20th at noon. All the entries will be given the same consideration. :-)

  7. Hi Michelle - thanks for hosting this event!

    Just wondering - could I submit my middle grade graphic novel? I have the text in script form - I suppose I'd waste some of the 250 words on 'Page 1, panel 1', etc. though.

    Thank you!

    1. Certainly you can send a graphic novel. You can send a photo of the first page instead of the first 250 words if you'd rather.