He starts out saying he's a newbie to this. Well, of course. He's got the first draft done of his novel and he's at about 51K words, working on his second edit. Short, but not an issue if he's adding as he edits. Then comes the first corker. He wants to be published by the end of the year. And he wants to know what's the first thing to do - finish the book or start shooting queries all over the place.
Oh to be young and naïve again. I remember that wonderful first year of writing, when I was sure I had the manuscript that would rocket me into publishing stardom. I was sure I'd be published by the middle of 2005.
This young man (I assume young because he seems so untouched by the reality of this business) wants to know what he should do first. I think the first thing he should so is take a long hard look at this industry and revise his timeline. Then he needs to think about how long it's going to take to revise and polish, to create submission materials and polish those, to send out x-number of queries and wait for replies. He needs to think in terms of how long - once he snags an agent - it will take for that agent to get his novel in front of publishers, and how long the process is from that point forward.
Even if all the upfront stuff cranks through quickly, he'll be lucky if his book hits the shelves sometime next year. But hitting all the ducks in the shooting gallery, without honing your shooting skills, is pure luck. Like scratching a lottery ticket... or as the baby in the below video says: "You realize the odds of winning are the same as being mauled by a polar bear and a regular bear in the same day."
(I had to delete the actual video, but you can see the e-Trade commercial I'm talking about here.)
Not that this person couldn't win the lottery, but if he does, I'll be showing a shocked face of my own.