Query Kombat 2016: Fight for Your Dreams

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
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 been in the agent
round of another contest within the last six months, you are not eligible to participate in Query Kombat. 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 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 20nd 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!)
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)
Twitter Handle: @BarbforSenate36

Title: Eunuchs and Politics
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, 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: 

Contests are very time-consuming, and in order to continue hosting each year, we’re asking contestants to give a $5-$10 donation when making their entries. 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 the slush pile! All Kontestants, chosen are not, receive free slush tips from the hosts and the camaraderie that develops from entering contests together. Many writers find lifelong critique partners and good friends from these contests (I did).

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. 

10% of all funds raised will go to FlintKids.org. Our friends in Flint still need our help. It’s an uphill battle that the QK Crew is committed to help fight, and we hope you’ll stand behind us.

Thanks for your understanding and your donations!

Best of luck in the tournament!

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  1. Confused about the relationship between our mss title and the "nickname" used for our QK submission. I believe my mss has a fairly unique title as is. And my query currently has the mss title in it, not the nickname as shown in the example above. Can the title and nickname be the same? Or should they be different on account of the "secret" nature of the agent round? Thank you in advance for your help.


    • Nicknames should be different from your title, and they have to be less than 25 characters for our formatting. The query paragraph with the title/genre/word count/comps is not part of the entry.

    • Thank you for clarifying! I was thrown by the nickname being part of the query in the example above. Would you suggest that our query contain the nickname instead of the title like in the example or should our submittal's query include neither? Thanks again for helping us all understand better what will be required of us.


  2. Hi Laura, I saw some questions on QKchat about comp titles, but this confused me because I thought that the instructions said NO comp titles or bio. I wonder if I misread that and it was only meant not to put those things with the 250 world sample. Should we put comp titles with the query or no? Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah,

      Comp titles are NOT part of your entry. We were answering questions about comp titles because people were asking, and most people put them in regular queries. But they aren't part of QueryKombat. We just want the meet of the query, the first page, and all the information we asked for above.

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