A Guide for Effective Neomail Applications
Looking for a new pet to add to the family, but don't want to spend hours and hours making a petpage application? If so, a neomail application may work for you. Neomail applications are used in a variety of contexts, from a foster putting their pet up for quick adoption and requiring only a brief one-neomail application or a foster who has a pet up for adoption for both petpage and neomail applications. As a long-time foster and applicant, I've noticed that petpage applications are more well-understood and well-explained in petpage guides, to the point that they are actually more common than their simpler neomail counterparts despite the greater amount of work involved, simply because people don't really know how to use the small space effectively.
So how do you actually go about writing a good neomail application? The most important thing to remember in a neomail application is to keep it brief. Each neomail has 1,400 characters, roughly 280 words, in which to convince the foster that you are the perfect home for this pet. That means you have to trim down any words and sentences which are not directly helping you convey a point. Unlike a petpage application, you don't have as long as you like to bring the foster around to your point of view, unless you wish to write out a sixteen-part application—which the foster will probably not appreciate. A two- and three-part neomail is certainly reasonable; any more than that and it's probably easier for the foster if you just slap the text on a blank petpage. The more parts you add to your application, the more likely it is that one or more of the parts is going to be lost.
The process of applying for a pet begins not with the application itself, but the foster.
Before you do anything, read the rules! It might be the foster's opening board post or it might be a full-fledged information page, but read through it carefully and entirely—I can't emphasize this enough. Fosters will often include important information such as sections they like to see in an application, a certain phrase they want included, or which account to send the application to. You don't want to miss out on your dream pet because you forgot to add "I love carrots!" to the end of your application. I typically read the rules twice, once before I write the application and once before I submit it, to make sure that I haven't missed anything.
You might not think the title would warrant much thought, but you do want to take a moment to make sure that your title is appropriate. Unlike a casual mail to your neofriend, you don't want to just put any old thing in the title field; aside from it looking rather unprofessional to send an application with a title like "sdgfdgd", it may result in your application being lost. A neomail with the title "Application for So-and-so" will get filed away properly, but something with a random title might get discarded or overlooked as a mail regarding some other topic. So be sure to include both the pet's name and the fact that it is an application in the title. If you have a multiple part application, include which part it is to keep organized.
In a petpage application, this would span a paragraph or two, maybe involve a poem or a story snippet to segue into the rest of the application. But keeping with the our rule of thumb for neomail applications, keeping it brief, you probably won't want to make this longer than a sentence or two. This is simply to introduce yourself and express which pet you are interested in, perhaps explain any aspects you plan to change such as color or gender to avoid confusion throughout the rest of the application.
This is often the most important part in an application: this is where you tell the foster how his or her pet would be treated if they came home with you. This can often include customization, entering the Beauty Contest, including the pet in Neopian Times entries, Battledome training, reading books, making a custom pet lookup, writing a story, writing poetry, making art, making a petpage, attaching a petpet & petpetpet, and much much more. A word of caution though—be realistic. Chances are no one is going to do ALL of the above things. Focus on your strengths—the things you would do—and for the most part ignore the ones you won't. A sentence saying "I probably won't enter So-and-so into the Beauty Contest, since I'm not very good at art" is a sentence wasted that you could have spent telling the foster about the cool customizations you have planned.
In addition, you don't want to make empty promises. Generally, you want to talk about things you've done already with your current pets; fosters often check an applicant's accounts to see if they take care of their current pets the way they promise to do so for the foster pet. Of course, it's totally fine to mention one or two things you've never done and you'd like to try with this pet, but you just want to avoid a situation where you're saying something like "I've never drawn art, submitted a Neopian Times comic, written a story, or entered the Beauty Contest with any of my pets, but I'm going to do all of those for this pet" because at best it looks like you're unrealistically ambitious and at worst, just blowing steam to get the pet.
People who like giving their pets characters often like to include a little description of the character the pet would be getting. This lets the foster know that you already have some ideas in mind and you're not just applying because the pet is pretty. As mentioned before, keep it simple. You don't have pages and pages to describe the subtle nuances of the personality you have envisioned. Focus on the most important elements of the character, such as the setting of their story, what kind of person they are, and the general idea of their story. A good example would be something like this: "Maya comes from an alternate Neopia where Sloth's invasion was successful and green Grundos are the only neopet type present. Maya is strong and determined Grundo whose life goal is to introduce more color into Neopia's Grundo population." As you can see, I laid down the basic concept of the story without using too much space or including unnecessary details like Maya's great love for apples. However, this section may end up much longer, particularly if you have a more complex story in mind.
It is a good idea to include some information about yourself so the foster knows a bit about the prospective owner. This doesn't need to be an autobiography; just tell the foster about what you like to do on Neopets and perhaps offline as well. I personally rarely spend more than two sentences on this, since more detailed information can often be found on the applicant's user lookup or About Me page, if he or she has one.
Why So-and-so/Why Me?
In such a limited space, it's up to you whether you want to include this. Even in petpage applications the necessity of Why Me sections is somewhat iffy, but if you have a special reason for wanting this pet, it might be advantageous to take a moment to explain why you like him or her. Either way, don't dwell too much—waxing poetical about how much you like the pet's name isn't bad, per se, but your words can probably be better used in other sections of the application.
You're finally done! But don't leave the reader hanging and wondering if they accidentally discarded the second part of the application. One sentence should be sufficient in closing—thank the foster for their time, wish them luck in choosing a new owner, whatever tickles your fancy.
These are just general tips to keep in mind when writing your neomail application:
Avoid using smiley faces and chatspeak. You want to keep a generally formal tone in your application, and some people don't like chatspeak at all.
Be sure to use the correct name and gender of the pet, and don't call him or her an "it". In addition, take note of the foster's name; people generally don't really like being called by their username.
Examples can be a great way to corroborate your plans for the pet. For example, if you mention that you want to enter So-and-so into the Beauty Contest, you can also add that your pet Steve has won three trophies so far. That way you seem more reliable and honest.
If you're having trouble keeping the word count down, re-examine your application and try to cut out sentences or phrases regarding generally obvious things. For example, mentioning that you will be keeping Maya as a green Grundo or stating that you have a two-part application when your application title says "Application for Maya, part 1 of 2" is a little redundant. If you planned to paint Maya, that would be a different case, but otherwise you can delete that sentence.
Be confident! Not only do statements like "I'm not very good at writing" weaken the impact of your application, they waste space that you could be using to discuss things you are good at.
And with that, you're well on your way to making a lovely neomail application. Whether you're an experienced applicant or have never made an application before, I hope this guide was helpful. Best of luck applying!