Clash of the Query Letters

Clash of the Query Letters—a query letter contest for quering writers and authors

2023 Contest Results

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our second run of the Clash of the Query Letters! We had 81 entries this year from 78 different writers.

Michelle Barker, our judge, has made her decision. Here are the finalists as well as Michelle's comments:

In first place, A FIELD GUIDE TO DRAGONS AND OTHER EXOTIC ANIMALS by Michelle Westlake. This query letters offers has a great premise and an even greater twist that I didn't expect. This looks like an exciting project with a solid storyline; definitely one I'd want to read.

In second place, PROJECT ICEWORM by Synte Peacock. This is a compelling combination of sci-fi and thriller with a historical foundation and promises an edge-of-your-seat read.

In third place, DON'T SAY ANYTHING by Claudette Manzanares. I really liked the way the author used voice throughout this query letter. Combined with a strong premise and an exciting pitch, it looks like a promising project. 

PS. Our next contest, the Synopsis Skirmish, is now live!

In the fiction world, a query letter alone is not enough to land representation. The manuscript's first sentence, first paragraph, and first page are the crucial test. However, a query letter acts as a writer's resume or c/v. It sets the tone, lays out the book's market potential, and introduces the human behind the words and ideas. And of course, it also pitches the story itself. While an ideal query letter may not seal the deal, it will fill literary agents with eager excitement—a most helpful frame of mind for them to be in as they turn to your sample pages.

Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question:
does this query letter convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept 
novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?

First place: $700 CAD
Second place: $200 CAD
Third place: $100 CAD

All three finalists will be published on the Chopping Blog and receive
complimentary access to a Darling Axe self-paced course.

The Finer Points

• Entry is $5 CAD
• Optional feedback for $20 CAD
• One single-spaced page to a maximum of 500 words
• Multiple submissions accepted
• Original, unpublished, unrepresented work only
• Once you've paid, send your docx/pdf to
• Submission deadline: January 31 

Our contests are recommended by Reedsy!  Reedsy Best Writing Contests 2022

New: Optional Feedback

Would you like to know how your query letter lands with our contest screeners? For an additional $20 CAD, we will send you brief feedback about your entry's strengths and snags. This will come in the form of an email with a few notes about what our screeners thought, a score out of five, and any relevant resources. Please note: this feedback will not be sent until after the contest closes and winners are announced—sometime in February 2022. 


Clash of the Query Letters—a writing contest for querying writers and authors