Friday, March 16, 2018

Announcing Query Kombat 2018

We're back and with Kara Reynolds filling in for Laura this year. Read about Kara here. Welcome to the team, Kara! 

Bloggers Kara, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the sixth annual Query Kombat tournament, and second year of the QK Forum!

Contest Mission: To showcase the work of diverse and talented novelists, while providing a learning environment that unites the writing community through knowledge, kindness, and a little friendly kompetition.

The Basics: (updated from previous years. Read carefully.)

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 they are eliminated from the tournament.

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

We have 21 agents on board so far. We're hoping to double that number before the Agent Round kicks off in June so get your entries ready!

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 been in the agent round of another major contest within the last four months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. Please don’t try to sneak in. The QK team includes about a hundred industry professionals, and a few hundreds of spectators. Someone will notice and inform us. If you're unsure if a contest qualifies as major, contact us through Twitter before submission.

Submissions for MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted (Sorry we aren't accepting 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 on May 16th at 9:00 AM Eastern time and close on May 18th 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 25th, and the tournament will kick off on June 1st.

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

In the event that we receive more than the available 64 spots (this is highly expected), Michelle, Kara, 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: (Please follow strictly)

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):

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

**If you do not have a Twitter handle, please consider getting one. We rely on it heavily for announcements, special events/prizes, and general/emergency kombatant communications. #QueryKombat is also a great source for up-to-date information.

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
Entry Nickname: I Fell in Love with a Ken Dahl
Word count: 75K
Genre: Adult Erotica (If Ownvoices please list here)


Barbara B. Doll seems like a woman who has it all. From the perfect body to a hundred-million social media followers, success seemed all but assured for her. And after being elected into the U.S. Senate while on a spacewalk on Mars, the sky wasn't even the limit.

However, despite her immense successes, something seemed to be missing from her life. She could never quite pin down what it was, until she met Ken Dahl.

Ken is funny, good-looking, and may have ties to the Illuminati--all the qualities Barb looks for in a man. She is intensely drawn to his shiny hair, chiseled body, and mysterious ways. When he offers to teach her snorkling, they hit it off instantly. Everything in their relationship was perfect until Ken confesses he lost his genitalia in a freak clogging accident ten years ago. When Barb sees his techie replacement parts, she is stricken with a fearful curiosity. Ken soon introduces her the plethora of pleasures to be had with his collection of cybernetic attachment, winning her heart from the fear of uncharted sexual territory.

But then the video of Ken's clogging accident surfaces on the web and goes viral. Memes flood the  internet, instantly making Ken Dahl famous. Shaken by the anticipated political fallout of being revealed as his girlfriend, Barbara is face with the choice of walking away from everything she spent her life trying to achieve, or from the one thing she always felt was missing.

***THIS is NOT a PITCH but your FULL QUERY. You may include greeting and closing. Comp titles may be included. No bios!!

First 250:

Words, words, and more words.

Do not include the chapter title.

Do not include a bio.

If the 250th word puts you in the middle of a sentence, you may go up to 258 (absolute max limit) to finish that sentence. To clarify: 258 words is the max first page word count allowed by a kontestant. 250 words are to only be exceeded if the 250th word divides a sentence.

Both Pages and Google Docs will return incorrect word counts if you use hyphens, em-dashes, or ellipses. Microsoft Word counts correctly.

Please use this site to give you an accurate word count if you are concerned about your standard word counter: If you must, count by hand. Hint: A properly hyphenated word is one word. Words separated by an em-dash or ellipse are two words.

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 follow Michael, Michelle, and Kara's blogs (Twitter is cool, too). All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Kara and Michelle. The third round will be hosted by Michael. The fourth round will be hosted by Michelle. The fifth round will be hosted by Michael. The final round will be hosted by Kara.

Have no fear, each blog will have links to all rounds so you will not get lost.

Agents and judges will be revealed soon. Questions can be left in the comments or asked via Twitter and we'll answer them as quickly as possible.


For the last five years, the QK Crew has donated thousands of hours to the sole purpose of bring the writing community together every June for a query kontest like no other. Every year since our first, our family of agents, judges, mentors, and kontestants has grown, as has our love and hopes for the tournament's legacy and family we've built.

Please help support the QK Crew, who dedicate so many work and family hours to helping others achieve their dreams, and to bringing our beloved industry a little closer together.

Important Notices:

1. Disqualifications - The QK Crew reserves the right to disqualify any entrant, at any time, for any reason. That being said, the only time we will consider this option is if a kombatant does or says
something to blemish the spirit of the Query Kombat Tournament, its community, or its affiliates.

***Agent requests for a disqualified entry will remain unreleased and be deleted.

2. Drop-outs - If an entrant drops out before the agent round, an alternate from the same team will fill the open slot. If an entrant is disqualified after the agent round, the opposing entry will automatically advance to the next round. No alternates will be substituted following the agent round.

3. Donations - Donating is strictly voluntary; it does not increase or decrease a kontestants chances of being selected. Donating will not affect the judge's votes or agent requests. Donors will remain anonymous unless self-identified. Individuals unable or unwilling to donate will not be impacted in any way.

Best of luck in the tournament!


  1. Thank you for hosting! I noticed it says no bio, however, if there is a bio line in the query, can we leave that in?


  2. If the query mentions the story is #ownvoices or informed by our life experience, is this considered bio? Also is #peerpitch considered a major agent contest?

    1. It doesn't sound like #Peerpitch features any agents so it would not count toward our restrictions.

      Please list your story as ownvoices(and why) at the top of your entry with the genre.

    2. The final round of #peerpitch did have four agent judges, though no requests for material are made through the contest.

  3. Does the story need to be resolved, can we leave you hanging? Is it suppose to be a chapter of a novel not a short novel.

    1. The story does not need to be resolved at the end, but the ms needs to be complete and polished. We don't accept novellas for the contest or short stories. Or nonfiction. Only full length novels.

  4. Should we include our meta-data in the query letter, where we tell the genre and word count or should we skip that info since its provided in the entry itself?

  5. Are full manuscripts requested at any time? Or is it based solely on query and first 250 words? Thanks!

    1. Not by us. But possibly by the agents if it makes the agent round.

    2. Thanks Michelle! Such a great contest idea!

  6. Hi Michelle. Normally the comps bit in my query includes the book title, but I take it that we should leave the title out of the query for the contest -- is that right? Just checking. Thanks so much for this contest opportunity!

    1. You can. It's sort of redundant when it's already listed at the top of the entry. I tend to strip that part out when posting the battles so it's not there twice.

    2. Ah. i don't know why, but I thought the title wouldn't show for the contest. I'll be leaving it out of the comps lines. Thank you.

  7. Hi Michelle. Do we need to follow the three blogs as well as follow everyone on Twitter? Or is following just on twitter enough to qualify for entry? (For some reason, the following feature isn't working for me on the actual blog pages.) Thanks!

    1. We ask you try and follow the host blogs. If it doesn't work, don't sweat it. You can sign up for newsletters or follow on twitter.

    2. I'm following on Twitter, but also can't figure out how to follow the blogs. I'll sign up for newsletters too.

    3. Yeah I'm having trouble following Kara's blog - I guess I'll just follow on twitter and subscribe via email and hope that'll do...?

  8. If a manuscript was once agented, for a brief time, but it isn't any longer, may we enter it?

    1. Yes, as long as it wasn't self-published or heavily subbed to editors.

  9. Hi,
    What if you have entered a mentoring contest but results will not be made know till after May 19? Is it possible to enter QK or not?

    1. If you get accepted there, you'll need to notify us at the contest email and drop out. The same if someone gets an agent after submission starts. And it does happen quite often.

  10. Is it okay to have a little less than 250 words?

    My 250 is in the middle of a sentence, and when standing alone, the first page makes more sense if I end a little shy of 250 instead of pushing to 256.

  11. Hi Michelle,
    Can you help me understand the purpose of the nickname? Should it be related to the story, the title, or to me personally, or should I obfuscate the relation between the nickname and anything related to the story?

    Thank you for doing this!

    1. The answer is yes. To all this. The nickname is for fun and to show some personality. Most people relate it to their story or themselves in some way.

  12. If our manuscript has a (gasp) prologue, should the 250 words come from that, or start with Chapter 1? Thanks!

    1. Your choice, I suppose. But if you enter chapter one, why do you have a prologue?

  13. Can we include the story inspiration in our query? Thanks

    1. If it relates to ownvoices I would. Otherwise I'm not sure it will matter. Themes and inspiration--That's the sort of stuff the hosts usually strip out before posting in a battle round.

  14. Is there going to be a twitter party this year? Thank you!

    1. I hope to have that up this morning. :-) Just need some topics.

  15. So, I want to follow the blogs, but I am not sure who I am supposed to follow. I have signed on for yours Michelle, but what are the last names for Kara and Michael so I can get to theirs as well. BTW, I had so much fun putting my entry together... 250 words are not as many as I thought they were and slashing and burning words broke my heart, but what a difference a little cleansing fire makes to a manuscript. If nothing else, I have tightened my first page.

    1. Mike's blog is
      Kara's blog is

  16. I may have totally missed this- but where do we send submissions?

  17. Is everything supposed to be in the email, i.e. no attachments?

    1. No attachments. Post says in the body of the email:

  18. Is there a schedule somewhere that shows when all the bouts will take place and how long they will last? Also, I'm not clear how it works when the Kombatants (64, right?) are announced and how they get narrowed down to 32. I assume the judges vote, but will we get to see the rounds and comments? Thank you so much for doing this.

    1. You'll get to see everything. All the matchups will be posted here or the other host blogs and judges will comment and vote. You'll know the winners by the ones with the most votes.

      May 16th - Submission window opens (9am)
      May 18th - Submission window closes (noon)
      May 25th - Finalist Reveal
      June 1st - 4th - QK Round 1
      June 7th -11th - QK Agent Round
      June 13th - 16th - QK Round 2
      June 19th - 21st - QK Round 3
      June 24rd - 25th - QK Round 4
      June 27th - 28th - QK Round 5
      June 30th - July 1st - QK Round 6
      July 2nd - QK Wrap Up/Awards

    2. Thank you, Michelle. Saving this so I can keep track.