Sunday, May 19, 2013

Query Kombat Judging and Commenting Info!!!

We’re taking a break from our behind the scenes madness to bring you a few rules and suggestions on how the actual Query Kombat contest will work. But first, some dates. The post to announce the Kombatants will go live on Friday, May 24 unless we have it ready sooner. (It’s looking likely so I won’t bother mentioning a time. We are narrowing down the spots quickly so watch twitter for updates.) Nicknames will be used instead of names or book titles so I hope everyone remembers theirs. If you don’t, we’ll laugh at you. No names will be used in the matchup rounds either, only nicknames.
Regardless of how soon we announce the Kombatants, the first round will start onTuesday, May 28, right after Memorial Day. They will be posts on Michelle's blog! Michelle4Laughs will try to post all the match ups by 8:00 am EDT, but please don’t rush to comment for reasons spelled out under the judging section.
64 Kombatants (this includes the Free Pass winners) will be paired into 32 posts for the first round. Yes, we will try to match age categories together, though not genres. (A YA Contemporary may be pitted against a YA Fantasy.) We will try to put all adult entries into one bracket and so forth. This will totally depend on numbers. As you can imagine, we received fewer NA entries and more YA entries. We’ll do the best we can to make the matchups fair, but we are not limiting our Kombatant picks by requiring so many of each age group. We are picking what we think are the best entries. Remember we are victims of subjective tastes as much as the next person. Great entries will be left out. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the game.
And I seriously mean that. If you follow me on Twitter you'll see how torn up I am about saying no to so many AWESOME entries. If I were an agent, I'd request, but I've had to say no due to small typos and the like because, well, we can only let in 1/4 of the entries we received.
The matchups (except for age category) will be chosen randomly. We will set the matchups entirely by who the Kombatants are next to in the winning picks file. This means it will probably sort out by the date and time you entered.
In the event a Kombatant has to drop out of Query Kombat there will be two possibilities. If they drop out before the first round begins, they will be replaced with an alternate QK contestant chosen by Mike. (Alternate Kombatants will not be announced beforehand. We don’t want people hoping someone drops out. We may announce them after the contest ends.) If a Kombatant drops out after the contest has started, their opponent automatically advances to the next round. Any Kombatant that receives an offer of representation will please notify us so we may withdraw them. Receiving a full request or partial is not grounds for withdrawal.
If you get into Round 3 and are paired up with a mentor, YOU CANNOT FOR ANY REASON DROP OUT for the rest of the contest! The mentor will have helped you for nothing, and you'll have stolen a spot from someone else who would have benefitted for, it.
   After the first round, entry matchups will be determined by the brackets. Kombatants will be randomly assigned to a bracket based on their age category. Again it will come down to your order in our winning picks file.
Our fantastic judges will cast their votes under assumed nicknames in order to vote honestly and freely. (Go here to see the nicknames they have chosen.) Voting for the first round will take place from 8am Tuesday, May 28th to 8pm Monday, June 3rd  EDT.  (For more information on the dates of other rounds, go here.) The winners of the first round will be announced on June 4th.

Judges will vote as follows: VICTORY: Kombatant’s nickname  They may or may not leave a detail reason regarding their choice. However much feedback they give is completely up to that judge. There are a lot of entries to read and a lot of rounds to go through. This is a long contest. But we’re sure the judges will do a fantastic job of sharing their thoughts.
To prevent favoritism, the judges have agreed not to vote on matchups containing a friend, CP, or Beta. Due to the length of this contest, certain judges may sit out a round as needed due to Kombat fatigue.
In the event of a matchup vote tie, the round host will cast the tie-breaker vote. In the first round that will be Michelle4Laughs and so on.
Now here comes the unique and important part!  We would like the judges’ votes to be easily located. Therefore, we are asking the judges to place their votes as a reply to the first comment in each matchup post. As soon as all the matchup posts are live, one of the hosts will go through and make a first comment. Something like: This comment is reserved for judges’ votes. Please do not reply to this comment unless you are a judge. Then the judges can do their thing and leave their votes as replies to that comment.
BUT in order for this to work, people cannot rush to comment. The round host has to have time to get the first comment up on all 32 posts of the first round and subsequent rounds. No matter how excited you are to share your feedback, please give the host time to get the first comment done before you comment. Any comments posted before the judges’ section will be deleted.
We understand that everyone is human and votes may not end up in the proper spot. All judges’ votes will count no matter where they end up.
Due to the nature of head-to-head competitions, commenting is a delicate subject. We don’t want feelings hurt and we don’t want people leaving angry. 32 people will be knocked out in the first round. That is brutal. And like any contest of this nature, the results will be subjective. Wonderful entries WILL be eliminated. We want every entry to get as much feedback as possible, so we will allow open commenting.
Therefore, especially in the first round, we want a ton of comments. And we want those comments to be super constructive and helpful. In other words, be specific. Don’t just rave about a Kombatant’s entry, tell them why you liked it. Mention things like the query set out the mc’s motivation and stakes clearly, the query had a super voice, the query was confusing because…, the pages really showed the mc’s personality because…, the pages felt flat because…, the concept is unique because…

Please no ‘cheerleading’ comments in the first or second round. (Friendly cheerleading will be allowed in the final rounds.) In the early rounds, if you want to cheer on your friends or CPs, do it on twitter. Try and give equal time to both Kombatants in a matchup. Don’t let someone remain left out. If you see a matchup that isn’t getting many comments, we ask that you jump in and do your stuff.
We don’t want this contest to only be about having fun or winning. We want all the entries to receive helpful advice to make their queries and page stronger. Please remember this and be kind and thoughtful. Writers are amazing people; they go out of their way to help. We’re sure we can count on you.
Enough preaching. Here are some more commenting rules:
We would like each Kombatant to give feedback on at least 6 matchups. You’re on your honor system here, we won’t be monitoring this. We’ve got enough to do. (lol!)  We’d also like each person who entered Query Kombat to leave at least one comment on a matchup, but feel free to do many more! And please we ask that Kombatants who are eliminated, come back and leave comments on the next round. We still want to hear what you think.  We need you to make this contest a success!
Kombatants, please don’t comment on your own entry, whether that is to thank people or to explain/rationalize your entry. There will be so many comments, that we ask you to wait untilthe last day of voting to offer thanks or congratulate someone, or leave any other type of comment on your own entry. If you want to thank people before the last day of voting, twitter is the place.
We’re sure there will be ‘no hard feelings’ comments. If there are, they will be deleted. We warned you you’d need a thick skin. We don’t want a trend of people apologizing before they give feedback. That just takes up more time and space. Give constructive (not destructive) feedback and apologies are unnecessary.
Getting knocked out of the tournament or not getting picked to be in the tournament is no indication of a story’s quality. We received roughly 215 entries to fill 61 spots. ONE missing comma could have taken you out of the running. Really. This did happen a few times (more like typos and grammar mistakes). To those in the tournament, the decisions we have to make are going to be unimaginably difficult. But remember, of 215 entries, YOU were chosen to be in the tournament. Whether you’re out in the first round or the fifth, that means something.
All the hosts are very excited for Query Kombat to start, and we hope you are too. Feel free to leave us questions in the comments or just shout out your excitement. Follow us on twitter for more updates. Now back to making picks.  


  1. I have a slight problem with the prohibition against dropping out for any reason for Round 3. If a kombatant gets an agent, the agent will not want her client to continue in this contest, and it'll be a huge waste of time. If someone goes onto the 3rd round and then gets an agent, that'll suck that time and effort went into mentoring the kombatant, but it's not the same thing as stealing from someone who could have gotten in.

    1. While they may get an offer of representation, we ask that they do not accept it until the contest is over and any agent that requested their work has a chance to make a competing offer. Accepting the offer beforehand not only wastes the time of the mentor who so amazingly and generously offered their time (and expertise!) for nothing in return, it is also slightly unprofessional to make a decision without thinking about all those involved. While any offer they may get might be so-obviously-amazing, we ask that they at least give the agents in the contest a chance. The mentors have a LOT on their plates, and making their time and energy useless is just not very fair. Sorry :) It's a rule we hope to stick firmly on, just to make the mentors enjoy this contest as well.

    2. Okay. Thanks for clarifying.

    3. No problem! So sorry for any inconvenience (but on the bright side, you'll get interest from other awesome agents as well!).

    4. I sure HOPE I have that problem.