I’m late with this one, as by the time it goes live #QueryKombat Round 4 will be in the books. Life. You know. Hopefully you still find it useful.
Man, Query Kombat was a ride. Three rounds of my query and first page being scrutinized down to the last sentence/word/comma, with tons of love received and given, helpful insights, and new friends. I lost my Round 3 matchup, but have no complaints. A tremendous experience all around.
Here are my final thoughts for QK 2017 (spoiler: next year I’m coming with robots. Ya’ll have been warned 🙂 ).
Readability Rules the Day
Everything I saw in Round 1 and Round 2 still held, but Round 3 revealed something I hadn’t previously put together: when it comes to your query, there’s nothing more important than readability. What does that mean? It means you need every sentence to be un-misread-able (I’m a writer, I can make up words all I want). This round, I and my opponent each saw our query misread by a few judges. The part of my story that involves blackmail was read backwards, and my opponent’s drug plot point was lost.
Now, let me be clear as crystal here: this is not the fault of any of the judges or anyone else who might read my query/synopsis/novel. If my writing is misunderstood, that’s on me and me alone.
I’m the one who wrote the query, so the responsibility falls on me. The problem is, like with every writer, I know the story inside and out, so it all made sense in my head. Admittedly, I used a word I knew might be problematic, to avoid repeating another word in the same paragraph, and, of course, it tripped people up. This is why it is so critical to let others read our stuff. Only eyes not intimately familiar with every detail can tell us if something is off/confusing. I didn’t do that here, and it cost me. Lesson learned.
Thick Skin is Your Greatest Asset
If you haven’t heard, publishing is, to put it mildly, a difficult business to break into. To succeed you have to have a good product, timely luck, and a thick enough skin to push through the unavoidable rejections and come out on the other side. Events like Query Kombat are great for building that up.
In the first two rounds, I went up against great entries; books to which I could have seen mine losing, and would certainly read. In Round 3, I was matched against the entry I secretly believed, from the beginning, would win it all. Guess what? That’s a good thing. Losing to that entry (12-7 by final vote count, which is approximately 6 more votes than I thought I’d get), while painful, showed me I need to work harder. Harder at tightening and de-confusing (see ‘I’m a writer…’ above) my query, harder at explaining who my MC is, and even harder at developing my story ideas. That’s all great stuff to walk away with, on top of making it to the final 16 out of ~350 original entries (top ~5%, but who’s counting, right?).
So Thanks, Much Appreciation
Thanks for reading,