LENNY LIBRARY - So you finally had an idea for the perfect article or story,
something that you just know everyone will love. You've even typed it up, edited
it, shown it to your friends, and then nervously sent it off to the editors
of Neopia's Finest News Source. Now it's all over, and the only thing you have
to do is wait for Friday (or Monday, as the case often is), when you'll see
your hard work published in the Times. Simple enough, right?
Not exactly. First, you've got to endure the long, agonising wait until the
Neopian Times is released. And believe me, time passes much more slowly when
you're waiting. It might seem like demons are postponing the next issue, just
to torture you with the suspense... And you could very well be right. But don't
worry... this is perfectly normal paranoia, and it happens to everyone.
But, unless Dr. Sloth rebuilds his disintegration ray yet again... The Times
will come. And, since several articles have already been written on not being
published, I'm going to assume for the purposes of this article that you were
incredibly talented and lucky enough to see your work published. If this doesn't
apply to you... perhaps you should read one of the many articles on how to become
a better writer.
Anyway. You glance hurriedly through the paper, checking for your own piece
of work. And, lucky you, there it is! You scream with joy, do a little dance,
and sit down to wait for the fan mail to come pouring in... and, more than likely,
you'll notice one of the following patterns:
Overnight, you receive a dozen Neomails, all from people who found your work
incredibly touching. An even higher number of people want to become Neofriends.
Perhaps you even receive a few Battledome challenges. You spent the day replying
to everyone, and marvel at your newfound popularity. Several people have even
asked you to continue writing for the Times! And why not, you decide.
You could get used to this sort of life...
You have Neomail! Unfortunately... it's just from someone asking how to get
to so-and-so, or complaining because they disagree with something you might
have unknowingly said. You're a little annoyed and rather disappointed, but
you reply politely if a little coldly.
It's been a week, and you wonder whether anyone has even noticed that there
is something in the Times with your name on it. You feel non-existent,
and wonder whether your work was really that bad. Badly disappointed, you're
not sure whether it's worth the trouble of trying again, even for that shiny
To test this theory, I decided to interview some of the published authors
from my own guild, The Neopian Times Appreciation Guild, better known as NTAG.
My question was: Do any of these scenarios apply to your own experiences with
Sarakrindel: Both the first and third scenarios have happened to me,
and I've also received a Neomail that fit into the second category.
Scriptfox also related the type of reception that his work receives:
somewhere between one and two. In his own words: "For each story I get in I
can count on maybe half a dozen Neofriend requests (with no Neomail), and maybe
two or three compliments... sometimes less, sometimes more- particularly if
I do a popular article." He went on to point out that articles do generate more
feedback and requests for help; "My most popular one for feedback was the one
I did on NeoQuest back when it first came out. That one was good enough to generate
NeoQuest help pleas for two or three months."
However, despite the sometimes meager amount of feedback, he continues to
write, as do many of the oft-published authors of the Times.
Two people's experiences seemed like insufficient evidence; so I headed over
to the chat boards, where pvk4444 was happy to share her own experience.
She said that she's received many Neofriend requests, and a lot of mail, mostly
criticism. While she found this frustrating, she didn't give up, and went on
to be published a second time.
I was finding it almost as hard to get people to talk to me as to gather opinions
that were in agreement, and so decided that three other stories (plus my personal
experiences) had better be enough. And yet... everyone seemed to have a different
point of view! But when I tried to organise, the information began to make sense.
Scriptfox seems representative of the many-times published elite group of
authors. If people recognise the name of an author whose work they enjoy, they
may be more likely to read the work in the first place. And, since more people
would be reading, it seems logical that, overall, people in this category would
receive more mail.
Sarakrindel's experience seemed similar to my own; a wide variety of responses,
based on the individual piece in question. While this sort of feedback can be
confusing, it may also provide clues as to what topics the Neopian public finds
most interesting. However, an enthusiastic response to a first piece can sometimes
be misleading, especially if later works receive less acclaim. If this sort
of incident has happened to you, don't be discouraged; it doesn't mean that
you should give up. Everything, including writing for the Times, has
its ups and downs.
Those who have been published only once or twice may find, like pvk, that
they do not receive large amounts of fan mail. This, too, may be discouraging,
especially if you try to compare yourself to one of the most popular authors.
Don't judge yourself by others, but by your own standards; if you've done your
best, you have every right to be pleased with your work. It's impossible to
please everyone, so write something that you yourself are happy with; chances
are, other people will like it, too. And always remember to try again, and see
what the next issue of the Times brings!
In short, it seems that before writing for the Neopian Times, you should
make sure you're ready for anything. Because, with such varied responses as
authors typically receive... you're just likely to be flooded with Neomail,
but there's an equal chance that you'll be completely ignored.
So am I trying to discourage you? Not at all! I'm sure that the satisfaction
of knowing that you're good enough to be published (and that really cool trophy
for your user lookup) will make up for whatever happens. And if not... now you
know what to expect.
Special thanks to those at NTAG, who provided
me with the idea for this article, and to the users who graciously allowed me
to question them!