Hashtags for twitter are a great idea for contest advertising, especially something like the flash fiction. I’m not even sure what that is exactly, but I know it’s pretty popular.
Cover contests have little to do with an author’s overall talent, unless they are also a cover designer. And as said before, traditionally pubbed authors don’t pick their covers and they are at the mercy of traditional publisher costs. Indie published authors are at an even greater disadvantage making a cover contest more about what you have to spend than on content. (just my 2 cents)
There is a hook contest out there. I entered it last year. It was not category based and there were only maybe 5 finalists for the entire contest. It made it very difficult to place, but the feedback (in my case) was awesome. I received a perfect score and near perfect and still did not place. For me that felt like a win without actually placing, and it validated my starting point while also providing some great suggestions.
The Royal Ascot also is a combined contest with only 5 finalists and one winner. Not sure if that would work for us since we have many genres, but just a thought.
Outside of RWA, contests are not as specific. They may be romance or simply fiction, short stories, novellas etc…. but they don’t differentiate between sub-genre. That’s a thought. I realize that this may bring up issues of people judging a genre they don’t know or like, however…we already do that by opting out a category that a judge may have entered. For instance: I have judged categories I’ve never read before, as I’m sure many of the people who’ve judged my work have never read historical. That just to say that we already are judging work we may never read. So a contest that is all inclusive might be an idea. After all, we shouldn’t be judging off of taste for story but considering the writing above all else. For me that’s what a writing contest is about.
My thoughts on blurbs and queries. I’ve not entered one of these, but have had a query judged, but not graded, as part of a contest years ago. I wrote the query in the format given through a webinar put on by a well known agent. The agent critiqued the query as well. My query stunk, no big surprise. However, the query I entered in the contest was critiqued and marked down on the formatting that was given to me by an agent. So what am I saying? All agents are different in this and I fear we will get as many differing opinions from writers who’ve queried and have their own idea of formatting and content. In other words, the science behind writing queries and synopses is not precise.
Is this helpful? I don’t know. Just my experience. I would not enter a cover contest (if I had a cover) and I wouldn’t enter a query, blurb, or synopses contest either. But I would enter an all inclusive contest. Think about what it would mean, to someone who’s not published, to final in such a contest. It might be a draw for entries.
Meet Cute (and not so cute)
If we shorten the words, it should not be a contest that judges GMC for both protagonists. Or story developmental and arc.