Common Myths About Writing for the Neopian Times
While wandering about the Neoboards one day, sipping my first of five Soy Chai Lattes for the morning, I happened upon a few topics discussing rumors about how to get published into the Neopian Times. These comments intrigued me, so after I scribbled down a list of the most common ones, I poured myself a sixth cup of coffee, and left for the Neopian Times headquarters to see for myself if they were accurate or not.
Unfortunately, I learned that even as a regular contributor to the Neopian Times, I was not allowed VIP access to every secret file or record in the building. I also learned that they employed some very scary weightlifting Weewoos as security guards, and that trying to bribe them with a half-empty thermos of Soy Chai Latte totally does not work.
It was a minor setback, so on my second break-in, I came dressed in my emergency-only White Weewoo disguise. I received some weird stares, but being twenty times the size of every other employee there apparently did not raise any suspicions. Regardless, I went to work, rifling through every file cabinet that I could get my hands on. The following are some of the most common myths that my fellow Neopians have expressed, and whether or not I found them to be true.
Getting accepted into the Neopian Times is like being struck by lightning! The acceptance rate is something like one percent.
If this were true, I'm sure our beloved newspaper would be drastically shortened to two measly pieces of paper, double-spaced. Maybe two-sided. The only time where it might be slightly harder to get accepted is during the annual 50th issue special, where tons of Neopians fight for the coveted White Weewoo avatar.
Outside of these special issues, getting accepted is nowhere near that difficult, as long as your submission follows the general guidelines. That is, your work must a) have good grammar, b) be Neopets-related, and c) have no mention of romance, non-Virtupets technology, non-existent worlds (including a silly one pertaining to jelly), or heavy violence. For a full list of guidelines, head to the "handy tips" linked on the Neopian Times submission page!
If these basic requirements are fulfilled, and your piece is compelling, then it is very likely that your work will be accepted. If you're still worried about the quality of your work, you can always ask a friend or fellow writer from the Neopian Writers board to review your work beforehand, and they'll be able to offer insight on anything that might need editing.
My entry was rejected because of "too many good entries." That means it wasn't good enough.
Ah, the most dreaded rejection letter for us writers and artists! It is also, conveniently, the most common. Fortunately, as I was reorganizing papers from a Weewoo journalist that had a penchant for writing passive-aggressive neomails, I discovered that our beloved editor Country Queen has answered our woes in Editorial 696: "I look at each entry on its own. If it's something I plan on publishing, it gets held over or accepted. If not, I send feedback on what can be worked on to get it accepted. The 'Too Many Good Entries' response usually isn't about how many total entries I got, but rather when I get too many similar entries or when I get entries for a specific issue that may already be full."
So, if you were dealt with one of these letters, fear not! It does not mean that your writing or art was bad at all; your piece probably only needed a few tweaks here and there to make it stand out from other entries, or it simply just needed to be submitted for a different issue. You can edit it and resubmit, or get a second opinion from a friend if you can't pinpoint anything that needs work right off the bat. If you need really specific feedback on the reason for the rejection, you can always neomail the Country Queen herself at nt_editor!
Comics have to be super well-drawn, though, right?
While some of the entries I saw in the office were enough to make me curl up next to a file cabinet and wail loudly about my inferior drawing abilities (my Weewoo neighbor did not take kindly to being used as a tissue), you definitely don't have to be a pro at drawing in order to publish your comic. The most important thing is that our editor must be able to understand the joke; if your comic accomplishes this and follows the submission guidelines mentioned above, then it should be a shoo-in for publication!
However, if you still don’t believe in your artistic abilities, or find yourself better at writing scripts about how a comic should pan out, then you can always find a fellow artist to collaborate with! When the comic is finished, only one of you has to submit it. Just leave a note in the comments for Country Queen about the comic being a collaboration, and write the username of the person you collaborated with. Both contributors will receive a trophy for the same entry.
You have no control over which issue of the Neopian Times your work gets published in.
To my delight, I found that the actual procedure for this was printed in the Neopian Times employee handbooks that I frequently found in the trash bins next to everyone's desks. In general, if you receive an acceptance letter, your work will be published that same week. A holdover letter, on the other hand, essentially means that your work has been accepted for future publication and will be followed up by an acceptance letter in the upcoming weeks.
If there is a specific issue that you want to publish your work in (for instance, you wrote an article specifically for Christmas, or you have a comic series that needs to end on a certain holiday), you absolutely can specify a future issue you'd want a piece to be published in. Say you wanted an article published in Issue 740, which we will pretend is also the next Halloween issue. Then, in the submission page's comment box, you would write something akin to, "(Note to editor: This is for Issue 740.)", or, "(Note to editor: This is for the Halloween issue!)". As a general guideline, you should submit your work at least a week before the target issue is released.
The Neopian Times editor is a mythical Uni who travels by rainbows and sparkles and hardly ever speaks to the Neopian public.
Sure, if by that you mean, "Totally Awesome, Country-Lovin' Editor Who Supports the Community and Answers Neomails." Although only a few questions get published in the Editorial every week, Country Queen actually does respond to nearly all of the questions neomailed to her. The vast majority of them just don't get published, and thank Fyora that's the case, because can you imagine a poor little Weewoo hauling an Editorial the size of a refrigerator to your home every week? So, if you have any question at all to ask CQ regarding the Neopian Times, your submissions, or just Neopets in general, do not hesitate to send a neomail to nt_editor! (Also, don't forget to enclose a cookie or two; I hear she likes those.)
Sometimes, writers and artists themselves can come up with special themes for Neopian Times issues.
This final mystery was solved when I took part in the afternoon rolling chair races and accidentally crashed into a room that was labeled, "Classified: Do Not Break Down Door Under Any Circumstances." I didn't break the door itself, mind you. The wall next to it, however…
Anyway, after insisting for the paramedics to not worry about me and instead treat the seven other Weewoos I had casually crushed along the way, I snuck back into the secret room to see what was inside. What I found was an archive of past special issues of the Neopian Times that were, in fact, themed by the contributors themselves! For instance, a copy of Issue 668 showed that it was a Brightvale University theme, and attached to it were records from the Neopian Writers board of various artists and writers that agreed to relate their entries to Brightvale University.
For these particular issues, anyone is welcome to contribute their own work. The best way to find out details about upcoming collaborations is to hang around the Neoboards and ask. From there, you can access other information, such as petpages detailing the current theme's guidelines, or how to contact the users leading the collaboration. You can even suggest a theme of your own!
These answers were all I could gather before the staff finally called Kauvara to confirm that no, she did not sell a mega-supersize potion to a certain "Iam A. Wheewhoo," and ordered their weightlifting security Weewoos to bench-press me back onto the streets. Regardless, I hope that my efforts were successful in debunking common misconceptions about submitting for the Neopian Times, my intention being to help excellent writers and artists that would otherwise feel reluctant to submit their work. Good luck, and try to visit the Neopian Times headquarters yourself sometime! The folks there are quite eager to receive guests, so much so that they were crying when I departed. I'm sure I'll receive a warm welcome when I return there someday!