Clash of the Query Letters

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

2022 Contest Results

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in our query letter contest! Here are the winners along with a quick word about each from our judge, Michelle Barker.

Wow, the submissions for our first-ever query letter contest were fabulous. It was so much fun to read them, it made me want to buy everyone's books. I had a hard time deciding on the top three, but after much deliberation, here they are:

1st place—THE TRAGICLY LOVELY SUICIDE OF BEE by Franka Zeph

The Tragicly Lovely Suicide of Bee was my top choice. Aside from being a solid letter from a technical standpoint, two things jumped out at me about this one: the concept and the voice. The bureaucracy of the Afterlife, along with the Suicide Division support group, completely cracked me up. I found the combination of humor and poignancy in this submission hit just the right note, and I suspect the novel will as well.

2nd place—WHAT DIES IN VEGAS by Jena Brown

What Dies in Vegas won me over when I read that the protagonist had been sentenced to work one hundred years of customer service. Killer line. Great concept in general and another letter with a strong voice.

3rd place—RAT, JACK, AND THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB by Camellia Phillips

I'm a sucker for a good heist story, and Rat, Jack, and the Impossible Job sounded like it would fit the bill. But what especially struck me about this letter was that it made me feel like the author had a good understanding of story structure. Everything felt causally connected and the stakes were high.

I hope to see all three of these novels on bookstore shelves sometime soon!

A writing contest for querying authors

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 contest@darlingaxe.com
• Submission deadline: January 31 

Our contests are recommended by Reedsy!

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