There are a few things that make my life easier as an AMV contest submitter.
The contest is advertised in multiple venues, twitter, facebook, an independent blog, the convention's website, this forum. The more places it comes up the more chance I have about hearing about it.
The contest is better the earlier I hear about it. In most cases it's not feasible to notify people earlier than a year in advance but more than three months is recommended. Without this kind of notice any submission I would consider will be without original effects. The video will be forced into a cookie-cutter effect / raw submission due to the short timeline.
Non-standard rules are harsh, I try to read every contest's written rules but if it talks about things in a different format than what I tend to consider big conventions (Otakon, Anime Expo, Anime Boston..) then it will have me re-reading it to make sure there's not an interpretation that I'm missing. There's always an anxiety there.
Sometimes contests are announced but there is no hard deadline. While people do like seeing the contest deadline move for personal reasons (including myself), it's called a deadline for a reason. If you pass the line, the submission is dead.
Also if you're going to tell me I can't show it before your contest premieres the video, TELL ME WHEN YOU'RE PREMIERING IT. I don't want to track 20 contest just to know if I can upload it publicly so people can get it. People have short attention and memory spans to search you after they see it in contest.
So be kind, notify
Categories in truth do need to change to fit our changing community but in short term realize that shifting categories around means that unless I aimed for your contest, you're getting a submission I didn't plan to fit in your categories. So they won't be a perfect fit. Make sure we have a reason to aim at your convention rather than another mainstream focus con if you change what your category differences are. Changing a category means changing how people can direct and still be effective. Some people are good at drama, some people aren't. It's a skill like any other and if you shift away from what people are good at, for what people are known for, then you'll be trying to wake people up that don't usually submit to mainstream contests. So you can't expect to get their attention through normal means.
Judges gauge things differently, having a known Judge that has previously been an active part of the community is a re-assuring thing to see. It also gives the submitter and idea of what the contest wants in terms of video content and what the audience expects from previous years.
Multiple avenues for submission:
Online submission is my favorite but the more options you give a person to submit, the more chance you'll have a good return.
We don't really need products to make us happy, but at least give us some way to make an official certificate. A pdf file at the least. It's not the plaque or how much it costs, it's the physical recognition that is honored by society in public. If you can point at something and the community agrees it's legitimate for reasons other than the plaque, it's nice to have that reminder.
Quick turnaround notification:
It's not feasible but if the second I finish uploading I hear back and if possible know if I am in the finalists within a week of the deadline, the contest is on the ball. Since submission to other contests is a factor to submitting to theirs, knowing if you're in one con is important to an editor.
How it's being shown:
Knowing it will be on a big screen in actual HD or online on a person's screen matters. It's a different way to edit for each method of display. Be Explicit in stating the way you will be doing the showing.
There's more but that's all I can think of at the moment.
The cooler the titles and the less compression artifacts in the end contest the more I think of the contest being run well. Unreadable text? Cheesy bumpers that take away from the videos themselves? Things that happen before and after a video affect the video in the middle. Be sure to be professional but also graphically slick and our submissions will look better because of it.