Neopets Neopian Times

This is a guide to get yourself published in the Neopian Times with a comic, series, short story, or article. Everyone has their reasons for wanting to be published in th NT. Whether you want fame, the NT avatar (10x being published gets you this avatar), your friends’ envy, bragging rights, the trophy on your lookup, personal goal, whatever, this guide will help you get where you want to be… which is in the NT. If that’s not where you want to be, go away.

Obviously the first step to being published in the Neopian Times is creating something fit to be published at all. There are a few things you need to think about when deciding what to work on. Take the time to read through these and think about them before you start.

First, decide what you would like to try to have submitted. Here’s a quick overview of the four different types of submissions to the NT.

ARTICLE
Have a great idea for a documentary on Tyrannian Petpets? A collection of home-brewed recipes for your own Gross Food dishes? Tips and tricks for your favorite game? Write an article on it. An article can be anything from a “news report” style piece to a funny collection of “The Top 50 Funniest King Skarl Jokes.”

COMIC
Did something hilarious pop into your head when the Lava Ghoul rained fire down on your pets? Get a fit of the giggles when your poor pet defended you from a booby trap in the Lost City of Geraptiku? Did a “what if…” situation strike you as funny while playing Pyramids? Comics are perfect for jokes best described by illustration.

SERIES/SHORT STORY
A series is really just a long story divided into up to 12 sections. This is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re a good storyteller, this is where you tell your stories. Campfires are for the weak. The NT is for the strong.

Okay, so you’ve decided which category your submission falls into. Great! Before you get all excited and start freaking out working on it, there are a few things you should check over.

1. Has it been done before? This is pretty much an automatic “sorry, not original enough” neomail from TNT. There are ways around doing something that has been done before, however, as many long-time NT readers know. Doing something in a new and innovative way gives you a decent chance, but you’ll have a much better likelihood of getting in if you think of something totally new.
Common articles that have already been done are:
Game guides (unless it’s a brand new game, chances are there’s been an article on it)
“Interviews” with Neopia’s famous characters (Dr. Sloth, Fyora, etc.)
Lists– These are difficult to make good. Make sure there isn’t a similar one, and make sure yours is unique/funny enough that it’s not tedious to read.
Obviously this won’t be as much of a problem with stories or series, as you are writing from your imagination rather than an article.

2. Check the requirements for the type of submission you plan to make! You can pick up hints of what TNT is looking for simply from looking at them. I’ve posted the requirements for each submission at the head of the section I discuss them in. Neopets has a few tips for getting it published here that it would be benificial to read.

3. Make an outline. Make a beginning, middle, and end to each part of your submission, and do a quick note to yourself of what you want there. This is so you won’t lose track of where you’re going in the story and wander off in some direction without any idea of how to conclude. It is completely okay to revise this outline as you go, but make sure you have a firm conclusion to head toward.
Example for a story:
Beginning: Luri the Peophin meets lost Peadackle, agrees to help find home
Middle: Chased by Maraquan Grarrls, hide in kelp bed, talk to King Kelpbeard, find lost treasure, etc.
End: they discover Peadackle is actually a Snow Xweetok, Luri helps Xweetok find passage to Terror Mountain.

4. CHECK YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR. I cannot stress this enough. Sometimes simple spelling errors or grammatical mistakes will be overlooked, but they still make you look… well, I guess unprofessional is kind of the word. You’re trying to get published in a weekly magazine/newspaper, not writing a Livejournal entry. Run a spell check. Here aretwo different guides with lists of common errors. Go over grammar and punctuation mistakes (like you’re/your, than/then, it’s/its) that people often make before you start and check for them again on your proofread. Speaking of which…

5. Proofread. Do this a ton of times. Pause in the middle, go back and look over what you’ve got so far. You can sometimes catch if you’re wandering before you’ve put too much time into getting off track. When you’re finished, read over it again. Save it, close it, go do something else. Then come back and reread it. Give it to someone else to proofread. This is the ONLY way to catch mistakes.

6. Think of a catchy or interesting title. Snag TNT’s attention when they’re scanning through the titles of all the submissions they receive. A title like “Trudy’s Big Day” is unlikely to catch the eye. A title like “GIANT EXPLOSION!” will. Make sure your title is at least remotely related to your submission, though. With comics the title is not quite as important, but we’ll get to that when we get to Comics.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

– Submit an Article 
Requirements: Tips, game guides, rants, quizzes etc. are all welcome.
[ Minimum Size: 1,000 words ]
[ Maximum Size: No limit ]

When submitting an article, make sure you stay on topic the entire time. While doing an article on the Negg Faerie, don’t get off-topic and start talking about types of Neggs. It says there is no limit on maximum size, but don’t take this to mean you can write a novel. Think about the attention span of most Neopets players. Think about YOUR attention span. Even if something is good, it probably won’t be enough to hold a reader’s attention for long if it goes on for so long that the scroll bar is the size of a Mootix. Remember that most people that read the NT are just browsing and are not going to read everything. They’ll be quick to move on to the next article if they start to lose interest. TNT is less likely to accept long entries because they too have to read through it all to make sure it’s appropriate and good enough for the NT.

– Submit a Comic
Requirements: The text should be easy to read, so please be sure that your text isn’t too small. You can only submit your comic as a single file, not individual frames. You can create and submit a 150 x 150 thumbnail of your comic, or we will create it for you.
[ Maximum File Size: 200 KB ]
[ Maximum Image Width: 470 pixels ]
[ Accepted File Formats: GIF, JPG ]

Many people’s biggest problem is what the joke for their comic should be. I have this problem too. I usually browse around the site, thinking about what I’m doing, and wondering “what if…”. The funniest jokes come from my “what if” scenarios. What if… when you went to Coltzan’s Shrine, it turned out to be the horn of a giant Uni who came out of the sand? What if… the main characters of the Lost Desert Plot suddenly found themselves in Maraqua? Or, you can notice things that are already on the site, like that pets get “bloated.” That’s kind of gross, if you think about it. (I’m working on this comic now :p)

So you’ve thought of a joke, you’re okay at drawing, and you want to make a comic. Plan out the panels with dialog included. Usually I open up a notepad document and plan it out something like this:
Panel 1: Eyrie and Meekins walking along
Panel 2: Meekins surprised by Moach. Eyrie- “Ahhh! Squash it! Squash it!”
Panel 3: Meekins eats Moach. Eyrie looks bemused.
(This is an outline for an actual comic that got published, visible here!)

Think about how you want your characters to be designed. Goofy? Serious? Simplified? Most comics are “cartoony,” but yours doesn’t have to be. Think carefully about how you want your characters to be drawn. Develop a drawing style that you’ll use every time you create a strip for this comic.

The archives of my personal comic, Petpet Ownerowner, are up on this site if anyone is interested in viewing them.

A comic can be anything from one panel to 6. For the layout, think of a comic book and decide what would work best. Rectangular panels stacked on top of each other? Four rectangular panels with a circular panel in the middle? Two small panels and a double-width panel at the bottom under them? The sky is the limit. Be careful with one-panel comics. Make sure they’re funny enough to stand on their own. Don’t let your comic turn into some kind of Family Circus. No one likes Family Circus.

After that, just go for it. The sky’s the limit, except for the WIDTH constraint. Remember this, as it is always my biggest problem. 470 pixels is the limit, so make sure text is still readable when you resize, if you’re going to be making the image smaller.

And dude, don’t let them create your thumbnail for you. It’s way less lame if you make your own. Even if it’s just a 150×150 chunk of one of your comic’s panels with the title of your comic plastered across it, it’s better than some generic picture of a sad Acara or whatever. Put in a little effort. It makes a difference.

– Submit a Series 
Requirements: Series should be sent divided into their respective parts, all in the same submission. Please limit your series to around 6-8 parts, so that other writers have a chance to be published in The Neopian Times. We can accept up to 12 parts, but try to keep it shorter if you can.
[ Minimum Size: 1,500 words for each part ]
[ Maximum Size: No limit ]

– Submit a Short Story 
Requirements: Make them fun and entertaining. Try looking around the site for interesting characters, items, Neopets, Petpets, Neohomes, etc. if you are looking for ideas.
[ Minimum Size: 1,200 words ]
[ Maximum Size: 4,000 words ]

I am grouping these together because, as I said before, they are essentially the same thing with a difference in length. I can’t give too much advice for a story. It’s coming from your imagination.

DOS/DON’TS FOR STORY-WRITING
DON’T tell your RPG character’s story. Odds are it’s only interesting to you and people you RP with, and most likely far too serious to go into the NT.
DON’T lose sight of a concrete ending. Many people have a problem with this, myself included. I get way more involved in writing a story than I expected, and suddenly I realize I’ve got no idea how I’m going to wrap it up into a satisfying close. The outline will go most of the way toward solving this problem, as long as you follow it. Editing it is okay, but don’t write the outline as you’re writing the story, or it becomes totally pointless.
DO be descriptive. Remember the five senses, and use them… well, not whenever possible or it will be freakish. But often enough that it’s not like, “Estelle was on Kreludor. She walked to the space station to get some food.” It’s more interesting to say, “Estelle found herself surrounded by Kreludor’s vast plains. She looked around with wonder at the dusty, alien moonscape. Bouncing in the lower gravity, the Lupe bounded toward the space station to get some dinner.”
DO add a personal touch to your story’s narrative (this is called “voice” in writer-speak!). Stories that are too formal aren’t much fun to read on Neopets, where everything is pretty lighthearted.
DO make unique, interesting characters. Everyone knows what a Tuskaninny is. What special characteristics and personality traits does your Tuskaninny have that makes him cool to read about? Readers can’t identify with a generic, typical character. Have your main character react to things realistically for them. If you have an easily excitable Lupe, it is not going to be calm and collected when an asteroid hits Kreludor.

Nice job! You’ve written/drawn out your submission. After a last double-check, you’re finally ready to go to the submission form, located at the bottom of the right-hand navigation bar of the Neopian Times.

Copy/paste your formatted story, or the image files for your comic. Double-check that everything is okay. Make sure you didn’t accidentally submit the picture of you at Six Flags as your comic, or accidentally cut off the second half of your story. Click Submit.

There are a lot of pre-written Neomails TNT may send in reply. Of course, what you’re hoping for is “Congratulations! Your _____ has been selected to appear in a future issue of the Neopian Times!” But this has NEVER happened to me on the first try. Ever. I often get “Sorry, but there were too many good submissions this week, try again.” Or, “Your ____ is being held for future consideration.” Once I even got a “Your comic is not original enough.”

Don’t despair! Keep submitting. It took me about three MONTHS to get my first comic in the NT, submitting every single week. Hopefully this won’t happen to you, but if it does, you’ve just got to keep at it. I imagine TNT down there in California, seeing my resubmission of Petpet Ownerowner, and going, “GAH, I wish this girl would stop sending this to us every single week! Fine, just publish it, it’ll stop her sending it to us anymore.” And then I win!

If you get a negative Neomail, like “not original enough,” “we don’t get the joke,” “it doesn’t look like you put enough effort into it,” it’s okay to get mad. I got mad when they said that an idea I thought up all by myself wasn’t original. But I guess someone thought of it before me, and eventually I just put it up on my Eyrie’s pet page for people to see anyway, and let it go. If you get one of the other neomails, try touching up your submission, or rethinking it. Maybe your joke wasn’t worded obviously enough. If they say you didn’t put enough effort in, think about why they would say that, and fix that part of your submission. Above all, don’t give up! Keep submitting, you owe it to yourself after working so hard on it.

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