Apr 24, 2015

Query Kombat: What You Need to Know

Bloggers SC, Michael, and Michelle are back again to bring you the third 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.

As we said, some things have changed. We’re doing away with tournament brackets this year. Instead, 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. 

This year the agent round will be held after the first round. That mean 32 entries will make it into the agent round. 32!

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 resubmit their 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, 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 Picture Books, MG, YA, NA, and Adult works will be accepted. 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 22nd at 5:30 PM Eastern time and close in ONE hour. Repeat: YOU HAVE ONE HOUR TO ENTER ONLY. The window closes at 6:30PM.

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. You may submit entries for (a maximum of) two manuscripts (in the same email) but we will only consider the second entry on the last day of the submission window. Kontestants will be revealed on May 30th, 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, SC, 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. The email address has changed from last year. Be mindful of that.

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.

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 all Michael and Michelle's blogs and sign up for SC's monthly newsletter concerning his 'Write Inclusively' campaign. All three blogs will host the first round and agent round. The second round will be hosted by Michael and SC. The third round will be hosted by Michelle. The fourth round will be hosted by SC. The fifth round will be hosted by Michael. The final round will be hosted by Michelle. 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 15ish agents and 30 judges!)
Questions can be left in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as possible. Best of luck in the tournament!


  1. Do we truly give our email address (in the body of the email) as:
    xxx (at) xxx (dot) com
    and not
    Or am I reading these guidelines too literally?

  2. You're reading them too literally, lol. The reason we don't use the @ and . symbol is so we don't get spammed. Right now xxx@xxx.com is getting spammed because of us. *high five*

  3. Michael, please subscribe me to your blog. Can't seem to make it work by clicking on "Subscribe to: 'Post Comments'" below. Or, could you tell me how to do it? Thanks, Carol

    1. It's usually a browser issue. Try using a different browser. If that doesn't work, just follow me on Twitter. If by chance you don't have twitter, simply telling me your favorite color will do. 😊