Getting Published: A Guide to Writing for the Neopian Times
Dusting your trophy cabinet, you realise there is a space you had subconsciously left for a new addition. In the back of your mind you always knew that the shiny golden quill would make a much-welcomed addition to your collection. You long for your work to be published in the Neopian Times, where your talent can be displayed for the whole of Neopia to see. But why haven't you gotten your shot at literary fame yet? Have you written before and had your work rejected by the editor? Have you written before but were too afraid to submit your work for fear of rejection? Are you too afraid to even try, thinking that you'll get rejected anyway and writing would be a huge waste of time? If you have always wanted your work to be published in the Neopian Times but have yet to get the chance, this is the guide for you.
Viewing my user lookup and admiring my small trophy collection, you'll come across my favourite trophy of all - the golden quill. At this point of time as I am writing this guide for would-be writers and future Neopian Times contributors, I have a 5x Champion trophy to showcase my contribution to the Neopian Times. If you're envious of me (and many other brilliant writers out there), but don't know where to start, this guide will take you through the various options available in making a contribution to the Neopian Times so that you too can be the proud owner of a shiny golden quill trophy.
1. Read the Neopian Times
The first thing you should do is go to the Neopian Times. You can't be a good writer if you're not a reader. Read some articles or stories that have been published in past issues to get a gist and a feel of what you would have to achieve in order to get your work out there. Past publications are archived and you can access them with ease, so make good use of this feature.
Looking for inspiration is one thing but plagiarism is a whole other ball game. What makes a good writer is originality. In addition to it being totally lame, plagiarism is against the rules and will not be tolerated so keep that in mind at all times! You want to be known for your own work - not someone else's.
2. Click on the submission form
If you followed Step 1, locating the submission form shouldn't be a huge task or problem. Once you're on the appropriate page, you will see several options for different types of entries. The submission options are: article, comic, series, and short story. Each type of submission has a minimum and maximum size, and for comic submissions, the accepted file formats are GIF and JPG.
3. Decide what to submit
Okay, let's face it. Not everyone is an artist, just like not everyone is a writer. Choose to submit the type of work that will showcase your talents. If you're good at drawing, submit a comic. If you have an imaginative mind, submit a short story or series. If you're more of a journalist (like myself), submit an article. If you stick to what you know and do best, there'll be a much higher chance of your work being selected for publication. So play to your strengths!
Now that you know what type of submission you want to make, it's time to decide the details of your submission. In this article, I will be sharing my own personal thought process when coming up with an article to write.
i) The first thing I do is to check the Neopian Calendar. By familiarising yourself with special occasions around the site, you'll be able to come up with countless opportunities and ideas for a good article. For example, if Bruce Day is approaching, why not write a piece of article dedicated to Bruces? Just from knowing that Bruce Day is around the corner, I can already name a few article ideas - Bruce colours, food dedicated to Bruces, famous Bruces of Neopia, Rink Runner game guide, just to name a few.
ii) Once I know the theme of my submission (for example, Bruce Day food), it's time to do a little research by looking up some items to help you with writing. Gather a list of food items dedicated to Bruces and learn about them. A good way to learn about items is to look them up and read the item description. There are usually some interesting facts that can be learnt just from the item description.
iii) Finally, it's time to type out your article. A good article has a catchy title! Come up with a good title that will make you want to read on. A boring title usually puts people off and since it's the first thing people will read, invest some time into coming up with a fun title that'll draw everyone's attention. Then decide the format of your article. Are you better at writing up longer sentences and paragraphs, or do you write better when you're making up lists? Personally, I prefer writing lists just because it is easier for me to organise what I want to get across to the reader, and it is also easier to read which makes it more entertaining for the reader.
5. Submit your work
Before submitting your hard work, proof read your article at least once before. It makes the job of the editor much simpler and having less grammatical and spelling errors will improve the odds of your work getting published. You've already come a long way and invested a good amount of time to writing your article so what's a few more minutes of reading through your work?
6. Wait for a response
The Neopian Times will always reply to submissions. This usually takes about 3 days but can be longer at times. After you submit your work and the editors read through them, you will receive several possible responses. I have personally received two different types of responses so far - a "your article is being held-over" response and a rejection response.
If your article is good enough for the Neopian Times, you will receive a notification that your article is being held-over and may be published in a future issue of the Neopian Times. This is a good sign and your article will almost always be published shortly after. If your article is going to appear in an upcoming issue, The Neopets Team will send you another neomail congratulating you. The second neomail usually arrives on the Thursday before your work is published.
If, on the other hand, your article did not make it past the first selection process, you will receive a neomail stating that there were too many good entries for that week and that your entry was rejected. I have received this response once out of six entries which may be a good indication that as long as you follow this guide, you'll have a good chance in adding the golden quill to your trophy cabinet as well.
Elaborating more on this, I write articles 99% of the time and am more comfortable writing articles than short stories. I decided to write a short story for a change and submitted it one day, and this entry was the one that got rejected. This brings us back to Step 3 of this guide - playing to your strengths! I admit that story-telling isn't my forte so I'm playing to my strengths by sticking to writing articles. You may need to experiment with different types of writing styles before you know what is your strong point so don't expect your first submission to get published if you're not a seasoned writer.
For additional tips, the Neopian Times submission page provides a few under its Frequently Asked Questions that you should definitely take a look at if you need more help.
Thank you for using this guide and I hope to read your work on the Neopian Times soon!