Writer Contests

Contest Mission: Our mission is 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.

Query Kombat:

Our (myself and two co-hosts Michael Anthony and Laura Heffernan) largest and most complex contest of the year, Query Kombat is a bracket style competition where 64 query letters and first pages are matched against each other until only one is left. There are six rounds of competition that last the entire month of June and our expert judges leave notes and determine the winners. Agents request from the entries between the 1st and 2nd round, but there's a catch. No agent requests are revealed until an entry is knocked out of the competition. Entries are known by their fun nicknames. Surviving entries are allowed to revise twice over the six rounds.

For middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. All genres. 

Query Kombat  2017 Tournament Calendar:
Submission Window: May 17th - 19th
First round revealed: May 26th

Round 1: June 2nd - 5th
Agent round: June 7th -10th
Round 2: June 14th - 16th
Round 3: June 20st - 22nd
Round 4: June 24th - 25th
Round 5: June 27th -28th
Round 6: June 30th -July 1st


Posts from 2017:
Submission Instructions here.
Enter for my free pass here.
2017 Judges and chat dates here.
2017 Agents here.

Posts from 2016:
Find all the dates in this post.
Submission Instructions here.
Enter for my free pass here.

Nightmare on Query Street:

Our Halloween themed contest. We pick around 40 entries and pair the writers with expert mentors. The shined and polished query letter and first 250 words go before agents for requests. Contestants must answer a Halloween-themed question in their submission.

For middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. All genres. 

Submission: October 13, 2017

Posts from 2017:
Rules and Submission instructions here.
Free Pass here.
2017 Mentors 
2017 Agents


Posts from 2016:
Submission instructions and rules here.
Mentors announced here.
Some fantastic agents listed here

Sun versus Snow:

A winter-themed contest, that happens in January or February. There are two teams of opposite weather blasting off against each other for the most agent requests. Thirty-two entries (query letter + 250 words) are picked and paired with a mentor. Shined and polished entries go before the agents. Contestants must answer a weather related question in their submission.

For middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. All genres.

Submission: January 23, 2018


Posts from 2018:
Announcement/Instructions 2018

Posts from 2017:
Announcement/Instructions 2017
Mentors for 2017
Free Pass for 2017

Picture Book Party:

A special contest exclusively for writers of picture books or chapter books. With the help of an expert in picture books, I choose about twenty entries of query letter and first 50 words to be put on the blog for the agents. Sorry no mentors involved in this contest.

Submission: March 2017

See the announcement/submission post here.
List of agents here

Last year's Submission info and twitter party here.

SFF Junkies:

A Facebook group for all fans of science fiction and fantasy where we talk about what we are reading, books, movies, and all things SFF. Open to new members. Come ask to join here

New Agent:

A special contest to welcome newer agents to publishing. This happens whenever I can get a large enough group of New Agents--usually in July. New agents are a great resource as they are more actively building their client list. Five expert mentors form their own team of Mystery/Thriller, SFF, Contemporary, Romance/WF, or Middle Grade and then host their team on their own blogs for agents to request. I also have a small team. Around 32 entries are picked.

For middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. All genres. 

Submission: Varies. (Watch my newsletter for updates.)


I also mentor in the adult category for Pitchwars, a contest run by Brenda Drake. For this contest I'm only looking for fantasy submissions, especially high fantasy.

Submission: August, 2017  


  1. Hi, sorry, 5/21 @3:40C I used your donation form with two different cards, VISA twice, MasterCard three times. Nada, rejected cards. I submitted hurried entry to QK late 5/19 & out in rush until now. I'm willing; this is first site to reject either, rejects both cards.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Ah, poo. Thanks for catching that. It's the 14th.

  3. I'd like to contact your privately about some QueryKombat '16 results, but no DM on Twitter? Can you email me at giffmacshane at gmail dot com. Thanks!

  4. Say you got my Query Kombat entry this morning. No confirmation! Help! "Marching in May" and now freaking out in May!