Official Rules and Regulations for the 2008 Inkthinker Query Challenge

Welcome to the 2008 Inkthinker Query — Welcome to 2008, writers! This year kicks off the second annual Inkthinker Query Challenge, with some changes to the original model. The official start date is Monday, January 7, 2007, but any queries sent during the month of January can be counted toward your year total. Read carefully to make sure you don’t miss anything! And get ready to start climbing your way to the top!Who can participate:

Anyone who wants to get more writing assignments in 2008

What the goal is:

120 queries before the end of the year (10/month or 2.3/week)

What counts as a query:

Any letter or other communique that proposes for publication something you wrote or are going to write. For example, pitching an article to a magazine editor and proposing a blog to a website editor both count. So does entering your writing in a contest, sending a letter of introduction to an editor or potential writing client, and even submitting something to Inkthinker or Notes in the Margin!

What doesn’t count as a query:

Over-the-transom submissions (just sending off a completed piece to a book publisher, magazine editor, etc, without its being requested), anything that’s not writing (eg, editing, translating, etc), and anything else I deem unacceptable at my sole discretion.

What you have to do:

  1. Sign up using the form at the top of the page.
  2. Query, query, query, and keep track of what you’re sending and when.
  3. Submit your updated numbers to me monthly.

What you get:

  1. Personal satisfaction. No, seriously.
  2. Random prize drawings throughout the year.
  3. A awesome, super-cool prize for the participant with the most queries at the end.

Other ways to win:

Have a query you’re particularly proud of? Submit it for the Query of the Month contest. I’ll review the best queries submitted in the previous month, as submitted by you, and pick my favorite. The winning query will be posted on Inkthinker and the winning querier will receive a writing-related gift.

How you can encourage others:

Get a gig or assignment as a result of a query you sent for the Challenge? E-mail me your success stories to post on Inkthinker so we can all celebrate with you and learn from your experience.

The quick summary:

  1. Sign up using the form above.
  2. Send queries.
  3. Keep track of your numbers.
  4. Win.


My Challenge, my rules. Winners, prizes, rules, and regulations are at my discretion. Conversation is encouraged, but I have the final say, period. It’s all in good fun, but you need to follow the rules and regs. Anyone found cheating by reporting inflated numbers or any other method will be disqualified. (And seriously, it’s not that big a deal, so don’t cheat.) The original author will retain copyright to success stories and queries published on the site, and will not be compensated for such. When you send your success story or submit your queries, you give me permission to post them on the site free of charge and to archive them here forever. Rules, regs, and terms subject to change at any time at my discretion. Updates will be posted here.

CLARIFICATIONS, added January 9, 2007 

Is it too late to join?

You can join the challenge AT ANY TIME.

Can I count queries I sent earlier this year even though I just joined?


If I send in a completed piece, like an essay or something, does that count as a query?

Submissions to lit mags, etc, WILL count as queries. However, use good sense in submitting–don’t just sent out the same piece to 100 random mags you found at Duotrope so you can win the challenge. That’s stupid, and a waste of your time and the editors’. And completed articles submitted over the transom with no invitation from the editor to send something in do not count. It’s called the Query Challenge for a reason. Personal fiction and essays for lit mags are their own queries, but articles need an introductory letter and a request for an assignment. Like I said before, the prize is good, it won’t be so good that it’s worth completely destroying your personal integrity–or being unprofessional.

Do I have to link back to you if I join? I don’t like you/don’t want to/don’t have a website/other reason.

You don’t have to link back to Inkthinker if you join the challenge, but it would be appreciated. The more people who know about it, the more people who will benefit from it.

So, I should, like, copy you on all of my queries so I can get credit for them,

For the love of God, NO. Do NOT copy me on your queries. I will seriously go bonkers. Then, in my defensible-by-reason-of-mental-illness state, I will be forced to bludgeon you with your keyboard. I definitely want your success stories, but please, please, PLEASE don’t copy me on your correspondence with editors. There’s absolutely no reason to do that. And besides, you’re reporting numbers to me at the end of each month anyway.

Questions? Leave a comment and I will answer in the comment trail and/or update this info so everyone has all of the same information at the same time.

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Contents Copyright © 2006-2014 Kristen King

21 comments… add one
  • Beth Jan 2, 2008

    Looking forward to it! Thanks for doing this again. :)

  • Kara Williams Jan 2, 2008

    This came up last year — if I send 5 story ideas in an email to one editor, that counts as 5 “queries” right?

  • admin Jan 2, 2008

    @Kara – Yes, BUT I do not recommend sending lots of story ideas in a single letter to up your count. :) Mostly we talked about this in the context of having an established relationship with an editor and pitching multiple ideas at once. Just for those who are new to the discussion she cites, you know.

    kk :)

  • Kara Williams Jan 2, 2008

    Ah, yes. I have been lucky to have two editors in recent months email me (and dozens of their other writers) and say, “This is a call for summer 2008 ideas” or whatever. In which case, I sent back a handful of ideas (each with snappy, one- or two-sentence descriptions) back to them.

  • admin Jan 2, 2008

    Those would count as individual queries assuming they’re actual queries rather than: Cats, dogs, elephants, hippos. It needs to be an idea, not just a topic. If it’s a stand-alone idea, it counts. :)


  • Kara Williams Jan 3, 2008

    Here’s another question: I just answered two Craigslist job postings, one for online-content proofreading and one for magazine writing (a specific columnist the mag is looking for).

    Do either count?

  • admin Jan 3, 2008

    @Kara – Since the Query Challenge is all about getting writing assignments, the magazine writing one counts, but the proofreading one doesn’t.

    SO, if you query a magazine editor with an article idea and they come back and offer you an editing job, it would still count because you pitched writing services in your query. If you apply for an editing job and get writing instead, it would NOT count because you pitched editing services and got writing instead.

    Make sense?


  • Kara Williams Jan 3, 2008

    That’s what I figured. Responses to WRITING jobs count (even if I’m not specifically querying an article I want to write to them).


  • Kara Williams Jan 3, 2008

    I mean “FOR them.” :-)

  • admin Jan 8, 2008

    I knew what you meant. :) Wouldn’t it be nice if we could edit our comments on other people’s blogs?


  • Dawn Jan 25, 2008

    I’m in! This sounds great! Now, to look over my notes and see where I’m at. ;)

  • Jessica Mousseau Feb 4, 2008

    I have a question about what counts for a query — because I see people counting querying for jobs, does that count?

  • admin Feb 4, 2008

    @Jess – see What Counts As a Query:

    sending a letter of introduction to an editor or potential writing client

    So, yes. If you’re querying for a writing gig and get a writing gig, it counts. If you’re querying for something else and end up with a writing gig, it doesn’t count. Nor does it count if you query for writing and end up with something else.

    Does that answer your question?


  • Jessica Mousseau Feb 4, 2008

    No, haha it’s ok though, I’m not doing freelancing anymore as of today.

    Thanks though ;)

  • admin Feb 4, 2008

    I’m afraid I don’t know how else to explain it. Querying or applying for a writing assignment counts regardless of the nature of the assignment, whether it’s for an editor seeking article writers or for a business owner seeking copywriting services. It’s all writing, it’s all queries, it all counts.

  • Marjorie Feb 14, 2008

    Hi, Kristen! I signed up for the Query Challenge last year, but then I went and took on a full-time 9-5 job. Being really sucky at multi-tasking, that pretty much put paid to my writing schedule.

    Anyhoo, I’m back doing writing mostly full-time now and am so excited about being part of the challenge again! Looking forward to it!


  • Marjorie Jun 26, 2008

    Hi, Kristen! Quick question: What about commentaries for op-ed columns in newspapers? Those generally require completed manuscripts to be submitted rather than queries.

    Also, if I’m submitting a previously published piece to an op-ed page for possible reprint, does that count as well?



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  • Kristen King Jun 26, 2008

    M, I think those are all fine.


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