I was one of a panel of five, and our task was to hear six novels pitched to us by six unpublished writers in the form of extracts and synopses and, gulp, to give immediate feedback. And because it was billed as a spectator sport there had to be an element of competition, so come what may a winner would be chosen “ by us and, separately, by the audience.
As a panel I’d say we acquitted ourselves quite honourably. We talked of strong beginnings, nice detail, good characterisation, the benefits of a good title, and the market (though this, we agreed, should be the publisher’s concern, not the writer’s). And we were able to say good things about everything we heard because the standard was undoubtedly high.