Clash of the Query Letters

Thanks for your interest in the Clash of the Query Letters.

But... gasp... it's sad but true: we're taking a hiatus from Clash.

Why? Well, read on...

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

2023 Contest Results

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in our fifth-annual First Page Challenge. We had 114 entries this year. Michelle Barker, our judge, has made her decision. Here are the finalists as well as Michelle's comments.

Well, it's that time of year again, when I get to peruse the top entries from the Darling Axe query contest. This year I took the entries with me to Tofino for our first ever writing retreat and sat with them for several days. It was a tough choice, but after much deliberation, here are the results:

First Place

The memoir I Can't Sleep caught my attention because of the author's plans to combine their struggles with insomnia and their experiences navigating the British health care system... as a physician. This book promises to explore a pervasive problem most of us have experienced at some point in our lives from the point of view of someone who struggled to find a solution even as a medical insider. 

I CAN'T SLEEP by Maxine Meju

Second Place

The query letter for the contemporary romance, All's Fair in Love and Acquisitions, did a wonderful job of summarizing the novel's plot as well as capturing the voice in a way that was both humorous and compelling. Strong narrative goals, high stakes, and a considerable obstacle to success create a winning combination for this pitch.

Third Place

It's never easy to write a query letter for speculative fiction, but the author of Prodigal Mothers managed to pitch a complex and intriguing story that includes both strong world-building details and compelling stakes. The plot feels fully realized and cohesive, and the main character's dilemma promises an exciting climax.


Thank you to all the authors who entered this contest. It was a pleasure to consider your work.  

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 our new craft book, Immersion and Emotion: The Two Pillars of Storytelling.

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. 


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