Claare's 800 Reasons for Sending Fanmail
Hi there, readers of the Neopian Times! My name is Claare, I'm a white Aisha, and let me tell you, I am off-the-walls excited to be hosting an article again! Especially because this one is for a very important cause. It has come to the attention of my owner Dew and I that there has been a severe lack of fan mail circulating the NT community as of late. What does this mean, exactly? It means that the countless writers and comic artists who dedicate their time and effort to creating stories, articles, and comics for the Neopian Times have not been receiving the recognition they should be.
Now some of you may be thinking that that shiny quill trophy, the NT Star avatar awarded to users with 10+ publications, or the simple fact that they've been published in Neopia's one and only newspaper is recognition enough. "They got their story published in the Neopian Times! Thousands of people read the NT! Everyone is going to be praising that user now!"
Sadly though, this isn't true.
In another age, when a user read an entry they enjoyed, they would Neomail the creator and tell them they enjoyed it. Authors received messages hand over fist telling them their entry was well-written, funny, or had touched the lives of their readers in some way. It wasn't unusual for an author to receive 50 or more messages in a week regarding their entry! This probably seems like some kind of fantasy to some of you who are writing for the Times in an era where you can have 50+ publications and never receive random feedback from a stranger. The question at hand is, why? Why are people not sending fan mail anymore? Neopian Times content is as good as ever, and there is still an abundance of users who read the NT on a weekly basis. Could it be that people don't think there's any point in sending nice messages about people's entries?
Well, I can think of 800 reasons why you should send fan mail for the Neopian Times! But, to keep inside the world limit, I think I'll limit myself to 8.
Reason 1: Writers do not get hordes of fan mail.
A common misconception about NT writers, or contest winners in general, is that everybody who sees their entry is going to send them fan mail. This may have been the case in an earlier time, but unfortunately, this is simply not the way it works anymore. When the prevalent attitude of the Neopian population is "someone else will do it", it's no wonder feedback messages are so hard to come by! We think that if so many people are commenting on stories/articles/comics, what does it matter if we send a message or not?
"I'm sure they've gotten a ton of fan mail already," we think to ourselves, and we don't bother sending a Neomail because we think one message won't make a difference. Well, one message can, in fact, make a huge difference in an author's entire NT experience — especially as in this day and age, it will likely be one of the only fan letters they ever get. Don't leave it for someone else to do! Your words can be just as encouraging as anybody else's can!
Reason 2: You'll make someone's day.
This is the most obvious reason why one would send fan mail! Everyone wants to know that their work is appreciated, and NT writers and artists are no exception! It takes hard work and commitment to create an entry for the Neopian Times, and by sending feedback to NT contributors, we are letting them know that their toil was not in vain.
To some authors, their works are as precious to them as if they were their own children. They have dedicated hours, days, weeks, and in the cases of some extremely devoted individuals, months or years to creating something that others will love. If we do love what they have created, shouldn't we at least let them know? The fruits of their labour were meant for us to enjoy; if we truly do enjoy them, we should say thank you.
You will make their day — I promise you will! These authors are not fictional beings like the characters they've created. They're not pixels on a screen, or imaginary people floating around in cyberspace. They are real people living in real houses, sitting in front of a real computer, and wearing a real big grin on their face after receiving your Neomail! They might even return to your message whenever they need something to smile about (My owner does this all the time). You never know; your fan letter could make someone's Neo-life complete!
Reason 3: You'll encourage someone to keep submitting.
Imagine a brand new author submitting their first entry to the Neopian Times. They wait on pins and needles for a Neomail from Scrappy indicating whether their submission has been held over or rejected. If their entry gets held over, they hold their breath and wait some more, checking every day for that fateful second Neomail. When they receive it they jump for joy, heave a sigh of relief, then they spend the next how-many-days waiting again for the issue in which their entry will be published.
At last the day arrives and they click right to their entry's category, scroll down and find their story, article, or comic officially printed in Neopia's fill-in-the-blank news source — and they can't believe they've accomplished such an extraordinary feat! And then the week passes and the issue is changed, bringing with it a whole new set of stories, articles and comics by a whole new set of authors. And the author wonders how many people actually read their submission, or if anyone even read it at all. They were expecting some kind of feedback from their fellow users. After all, isn't that what happens when you get published in the Neopian Times?
They resort themselves to the idea that their entry simply wasn't good enough, and some of them think, "Why should I bother submitting again if no one is even going to read my entries?"
And this scene plays out every week, over and over and over again. And don't think it's a scenario reserved for the brand new author! Seasoned writers also experience feelings of insignificance — like their hard work doesn't matter because nobody appreciates it anyway. My owner Dew knows of some wonderfully talented writers who have stopped writing for the Neopian Times for this reason. And it's such a shame! Now Neopia will never know what these creatively-gifted individuals could have been capable of, simply because nobody took the time to let them know, "We're reading."
By making a diligent effort to give our favourite authors, as well as budding new authors, the recognition they deserve, we can encourage them to keep writing, keep creating more amazing NT content for all of us to enjoy!
You can help shape the future!
Reason 4: You could help someone improve their creations.
Are you an experienced writer? Are you a master at making comics? Maybe you've been around the block a few times with your creative endeavours and have some advice to share with newer, up-and-coming NT contributors? Whether you're an absolute wealth of knowledge yourself or are passing on a recently acquired tip from an old ace, any aspiring NT writer or artist is sure to appreciate advice, so long as it's presented in a positive, productive way.
Some authors will include somewhere in their entry that they're seeking reviews or constructive criticism. If you come across an entry where the author requests feedback, don't be shy to give it to them if you have an idea of what to say! Wouldn't it be rewarding to know that you helped a user to improve their writing or comic making skills? To read their future entries, chart their progress, and know that you are partly responsible for said progress...! Wouldn't it make you proud? Wouldn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Even though this article enforces the importance of sending 'fan mail', your messages to NT authors don't have to be all rainbow cupcakes and sunshine! Sometimes the best way to let an author know that you appreciate them is to kindly and considerately tell them how they can make their good work even better. Just remember to offer a cupcake and a generous serving of sunshine, too! Don't forget the confetti! The user you're Neomailing did make it into the NT, after all!
Reason 5: Authors are human too.
Say you were given the opportunity to spend the afternoon with your favourite singer or actor. Would you take it? For some of us, the automatic reaction would be to scream "YES!" at the top of our lungs. However, probably just as many of us would feel shy about meeting a famous celebrity. We can see every movie they've ever been in, or listen to all of their songs, but the idea of meeting them in person might seem pretty darn nerve-wracking to some of us! After all, they're so famous and accomplished and awesome! Who are we to hang out with them?
Sometimes we feel the same way about accomplished NT writers and artists. Almost all of us have been guilty of this at some point, especially my owner. She'll read an incredible short story that she thought was beautifully written, be on her way to tell the writer how much she loved it... and then she'll realize they're a 62x Neopian Times Champion. And she stops dead in her tracks. She gets way too intimidated by the number of entries they have to their username, and she'll be all like, "Who am I to tell them their story was well-written? Of course it was well-written — they've been published 62 times!"
In response to Dew's question of who is she to compliment them: she's just a normal girl complimenting another normal human being on their story. A celebrity is just a person too, remember, no matter how famous or accomplished they are. A 62x NT Champion likes to be told their entry was well-made just as much as a 2x Champion does! We have to remind ourselves that even these people probably haven't been inundated with fan mail, simply because of the day and age they're writing in. Just think, you might even make more of a difference by Neomailing one of these NT legends. I'm sure they'd be very grateful to you, as they may not have received a message like it in a very long time!
Reason 6: You could make a new friend.
If you read a story that you think is fantastic and are absolutely obsessed with it, chances are the writer has the same taste in literature as you. Similarly, if you read a comic that you think is hilarious and you laugh at it over and over, probably the artist has the same sense of humour as you. Sending fan mail for entries you've really enjoyed is a great way to meet other people who have the same interests that you do! Dew has made lots of great friends that way, and they all share her passion for the Neopian Times. She loves talking to them about writing, comparing thoughts on different entries, and she gets super neat insiders information about stories her friends are writing before they're even published! But, shh! I wasn't supposed to announce that... Ahem!
In fact, I was actually inspired to write this article by some of Dew's friends, and their reactions to the messages she's sent them about their entries. If you guys are reading this, Dew says thank you. You've been a really huge help in making this article possible!
Reason 7: You might get some back.
You can count this as one of your reasons if you're a contributor to the Neopian Times as well as a reader. I feel pretty bad for saying this, and I really shouldn't be including it as a reason because this shouldn't be what we do it for, but, hey, it's true. If you send somebody fan mail, there's a chance that they could send some back.
Say claaretrianglegrl sends a Neomail to zamicookies and says that she thought her comic was wonderful. Now imagine zamicookies remembers claaretrianglegrl's username, and three weeks later she sees claaretrianglegrl has had an entry published in the article category. The article is not on a topic that would usually interest zamicookies, but since it was written by claaretrianglegrl she decides to read it anyway. The article turns out to be very good, and is written in a way that totally piques the interest of zamicookies! zamicookies was so touched by claaretrianglegrl's kind message about her comic that she decides to return the favour by writing a nice message about claaretrianglegrl's article.
This is just a little principle I like to call Claare's Fan mail Cycle. Pretty catchy, isn't it? This is a perk you may or may not have to look forward to on your fan mail-sending adventures. Just remember, don't only be nice to the people who have been nice, or so they'll be nice to you! Even jerks like Dr. Sloth can do that.
Reason 8: You may encourage others to do the same.
Kind of like Claare's Fan mail Cycle, but better. If you send someone a really nice message about their story/article/comic, they may be inspired by your kindness and decide to pay it forward. Everyone remembers how happy they felt when they received fan mail, and do you know what? There are plenty of lovely people in Neopia who want to help others to experience this same happiness. If everyone were to send one fan mail for every one fan mail they receive, eventually we may be able to fix the problem that is plaguing all Neopian Times contributors.
Just think of a Neopian Times community where there's enough feedback and positive energy going around to allow every author to feel that their work is appreciated and enjoyed. The Times could be like it used to be, or perhaps even bigger and better than ever before! New authors could make a proud debut in the NT and know they have a bright and rewarding future ahead of them; seasoned authors could keep creating the masterpieces they're known for, and know that we love them for what they do. It would be the dawn of a wonderful new horizon for NT readers and writers everywhere!
So, have I convinced you yet? If not, I have 792 more reasons. I can't list them all here today, but who knows? Maybe if you send a fan mail yourself you'll come up with some reasons of your own. Next time you read an NT story, article, or comic that you truly and honestly enjoy, why don't you Neomail the author and tell them what you liked about it? It only takes a few minutes, and though one person sending feedback probably won't change the Neopian Times, it will definitely make a difference in the life of one author.
And maybe, if enough people read this and take this article to heart, we really can change the anti-fan mail direction the NT is taking. We know as readers and writers that words have the power to change the world. I think it's about time we rock the boat, and put our words to use.