A Guide to Getting in the Neopian Times
As a news reporter, I know from experience just about all there is to know about the publication of the Neopian Times. The before part, where you’re writing your story, the submitting part, where you’re waiting, the actual publication part, where you get to see your story in ink on the computer screen, and the after part- everyone’s favorite, fan mail!
So I decided to write a small guide on the Neopian Times for writers who haven’t yet picked up their quill and begun to write.
You should probably begin by asking yourself this question: “Why am I writing for the Neopian Times?” Are you just trying out your writing sense? Trying to earn a trophy? Trying to earn that Neopian Times avatar you get after getting published so many times? Whatever your purpose is, it’s good to know- and if you can’t think of a purpose, not even one like, “just for fun!”, then I suggest you put down your quill and go play a rousing round of Whack-A-Staff-Member.
The next thing to think about is probably the most important one: “What am I going to write about?” You should probably think about what you want to write. A story? An article? A continuing story? Once you have your type, you need the next thing- an idea! Make your idea original. If you’re writing about the new plot, and there are 300 other submissions about it, the chances are slim that you are going to get in. And you have to write about something NEOPETS related- I know this sounds dumb to you, but I have talked to excited users who just submitted a great article on cars, or a great story about dogs and cats. If your submission is not Neopets related, the chances of you getting in are exactly 0%.
And, on another note, if you copy another story, or a copyrighted piece, this is called plagiarism and is NOT allowed.
Next step- starting to write! I have been through this plenty of times- you get an idea about a cool article you could write for the Neopian Times. You get all excited about it, but when you pick up your quill to begin, you realize you have NO idea how to start! To cure this, you might want to jump right into your story and write your beginning later. You could even start with the end- just as long as you make sure the story gets in the right order before you submit it!
Bear in mind that there are word limits- the stories have to be at least 1,200 words, the continuing stories have to be at least 1,500 words per part, and the articles have to be at least 1,000 words. There are also limits on how many words they can have, though I thoroughly doubt any writing would go up to this- 50,000 words! That’s about 100 typed pages of writing. So don’t worry about that! But remember- if you submit a piece that is less than the required length, even by just a few words, chances are slim you will get in.
Once you have your piece written, you have to submit it. There is a small newspaper icon at the bottom of the sidebar in the Neopian Times. It says something along the lines of “Click here to submit your pieces to the Neopian Times.” If you click there (duh), you will be directed to a page where you can submit your pieces. You have to add a title, so think of a good one, not just “The Lenny” or “Read Me.” A good title calls out to the reader's eyes. A boring one... fewer people will read your piece.
You also have space to write a small author’s note if you wish. What’s this? It could be a dedication (which would appear in italics at the top of your story), or just a small note about this story. (“Thanks to my friend for helping proof read this!”) One suggestion about this is DO NOT put “If you are reading this...” Way too many authors put a note starting with that, and after a while, it gets annoying. People might not read it or any other of your works again, or they might change their mind and not Neomail you.
Okay. So now you’ve submitted your piece. And here comes the hard part... waiting. Waiting to get an answer could take weeks! The best Neomail you can get back the first time is probably the one where it says “We are considering putting your piece in a future issue of the Neopian Times.” That means, most likely, you will get it in! Other Neomails might be rejections- “There are too many stories about this,” or “Try again next week”. These are sort of disappointing, but remember there are hundreds of people trying to get in, and the editor only has room for a small amount of writing. I have even had a few stories that have disappeared into cyberspace. I submitted those months ago and have not got an answer. I am not sure about this, but I think it means they were rejected.
But what happens if you ARE accepted? Early in the week that you are going to be accepted, you will get a Neomail- “Congratulations! Your piece has been selected to appear in the Neopian Times! You have been awarded a trophy...”
Be prepared to freak out when you get this Neomail. When I first got it, I screamed and danced and smiled a lot. I was so excited about finally getting something published- my dream!
Then comes another small amount of waiting- you have to wait until Friday, or Saturday morning (depending on your time zone) when it is released. When it finally is released, I usually go to my story first and re-read it a few times, smiling. Then I glance over the rest of the paper- the editorial, the comics, the stories, the articles...
The part that completely surprised me about this process was fan mail. I know this sounds silly to you, but when I got my first Neomail from a kind person saying my article was well written, I was surprised and thanked her a lot. I still remember that person- she was just like, “You must be flooded with fan mail, but I wanted to say good job,” and I was just like, “You can get fan mail?!” And I did get fan mail- tons of it. When that week was over, I had gotten 96 pieces of fan mail! :) I know that does sound like a lot, but in truth, hearing all those complements was the best part- for me.
Don’t expect that much fan mail, though! Stories usually draw less fan mail, and my article was the first one- so that’s probably why I got so much fan mail. With my story, I only got 5 letters. It differs, but you can expect some!!
So there’s a guide to you all about the Neopian Times publication progress. Or at least as much as I could explain in one article. For all you first time writers, I hope you guys pick up your quill and begin to write. I can see headline news now...