And there was me thinking 700 words was not enough!I've been thinking a lot about this. Perhaps too much. In the real world, when you query you are pitching both an idea and (in many but not all cases) a few pages of writing. I think perhaps @AgentPete you should slightly relax the word count requirement for the blurb (it's really tight right now...isn't it like fifty words? I can't remember). And then you could even pare back the submission length to 500 words. And my reason for thinking this is that right now the way we judge submissions doesn't really support the premise of 'is this book a good idea?' I think the angle of; 'does xyz story have a market? And does the writer appear to have the chops?' ----those are both interesting questions and no one else is doing it.
If we emphasized that the submissions are more of a book pitch than a place for judging an entire book based on the first two pages, maybe the responses to submissions and the judging criteria would be more coherent.
I could read you the first 700 words of bestselling novels and I think there's many who would be ripped apart on popupsubmissions. I still haven't met a book I can't disengage from in the first few pages, but give me two chapters and some characters I care about and you can't tear me away. On a personal level, my submission was basically called Harry Potter fan fiction. I risk digressing into a full on rant but I personally didn't get any benefit from the judging of my submission (unless you count the burning fire to prove you all WRONG WRONG WRONG!) And after the 3 month wait, my WIP had evolved so much, the submission really didn't even matter any more.
Pop Up Sumissions are fun. I don't even know if it matters if we are "helping" anyone with the judging. It can simply be a fun challenge. Winning can be its own prize. But I think we should stress what it is exactly that we are judging----a book or a pitch? If it's the pitch, submitters should be encouraged to spend more time on the blurb and put equal emphasis with the excerpt submitted.
And as another point of personal opinion, I've come to feel 700 words is just too long. As a viewer, I'd like to see less of the excerpt and more discussion about the concept being pitched. When my submission was being judged, I would have liked the judges to pay closer attention to the idea I had. Sometimes Pete does that (esp when it's a detective story or something he's into) but if it's spec fic, forget about it.