Yeah. It’s like this.
Here’s a somewhat strained metaphor for you, inspired by Chuck’s latest list of reasons why that novel you wrote will never get published.
Platform games can be hard. REALLY hard. I mean brain-taxing finger-cramping swear-inducing endeavors. Getting a book published can be similar. It might not seem like an obvious parallel at first, but bear with me. Like a video playthrough or GameFAQs guide, I’ll walk (or jump, or flip) you through it.
Writing the query – VVVVVV
This seems simple enough. Rescue your crew and gather special trinkets. You have one button, which flips your personal gravity. You walk from one side of the screen to the other, flipping to avoid the occasional enemy and lots (and I do mean LOTS) of spikes. Now swap, “flip your gravity to avoid spikes” with “write a query to get your book published.” It seems simple, right?
Any author with dreams of getting ink will tell you it’s not as simple as it sounds. Condensing tens or hundreds of thousands of words into a couple dozen to grab the attention of an agent is no small feat. And all around you are signs that you won’t be able to do it. Take the Veni, Vidi, Vici sequence:
Obtaining one of the trinkets requires you to go through about 6 consecutive screens filled with nothing but spikes, which on it’s own is extremely difficult. Then the game requires you to turn around immediately (or get impaled) and complete the same six screens in reverse order. More than one player has missed the (rather easy) landing at the end, after successfully navigating Hell itself…
Lampshaded in that there is a message at the beginning stating “Ha! Nobody will ever get this one.”
Submitting queries – Super Meat Boy
Once you get the query done, you start sending it out to agents. Let’s be honest, though. You might as well be sending tangible bits of your soul through a meat grinder. Over and over again.
Hence, Super Meat Boy.
I’ve discussed the trials and tribulations of this game at length before, and the querying process is a lot like this. You send your letters, you wait, you get rejections. At least in Super Meat Boy, you get the results right away, in all their bloody gory glory.
Speaking of which…
Submitting more queries – I Wanna Be The Guy
Straight out of Platform Hell, this tough-as-iron-coffin-nails indy platformer casts you as The Kid. The Kid wants to be the Guy. He’s got a cape that makes him double jump, a gun and infinite lives. Which is a good thing, because everything and its mother is trying to kill you. And they will succeed.
The more queries you send, the more rejections you’ll get. It’s really a matter of how many times you can send more queries, like hitting the R button to try again in I Wanna Be The Guy. Once you get past the sting of one agency’s rejection, like successfully navigating one screen of this game, another is waiting – gleefully, it might seem – to make you feel that pain all over again. In other words, trying to get your book published successfully is like trying to play a ROM hack of BattleToads.
And if you understand that metaphor, you have both my praise and my sympathy.