I would like to give some advice to aspiring authors who are attempting to write their very first book. But before I begin, I want to assure you that I mean this in the most constructive manner possible. I'm not trying to discourage anyone, I simply want to share some of my (admittedly limited) experience and knowledge.
Just a few days ago, I read a new writer's blog. She's in the beginning stages of writing her book, and she mentioned that she hopes to have it published by the end of summer. I struggled with myself over replying to that statement because I never want to be the guy who goes around destroying other people's dreams. I don't want to be mean, condescending, or a know-it-all.
But publishing takes time. Especially traditional publication. The fact is, even with a contract, it's going to take several months to turn a finished manuscript into a printed product. Jim Butcher just finished his next Dresden Files book (just over a month ago, I think), and it won't be released until July 26th. And that book is almost guaranteed to be on the NYT top 10 list. Kiersten White was able to get a rush job on her debut novel, Paranormalcy. From the time she got the publishing deal to when the book hit the shelves, it was over a year.
Should this writer have goals? Of course! Goals are what drive us to finish what we started. But getting a book published, at least through the traditional method, will take a long time. Even self-publishing takes a while, though. I know Todd Newton spent months going over his book when he self-published it. He spent a great deal of time editing, re-editing, and then going over cover designs, putting together a cover blurb, etc.. And it paid off because now the title has been published by a small traditional publishing house.
The fact of the matter is: it's the middle of April. September 21 is the last day of Summer. That's five months away. Finishing a manuscript in that time is COMPLETELY reasonable. In fact, I encourage that. I'll go farther and challenge any new writer to finish their manuscript, revisions and all, by the end of July. I came close to doing that last year, and it was one of the most enjoyable, eyeopening experiences of my life.
Please don't get discouraged by what I just said. I'm not trying to turn anyone away from writing. I know how depressing writing can get, though. I've set impossible deadlines for myself many times, and now every time a deadline passes and I haven't reached my goal, I consider moving on to another career. Some of you reading this have been writing for a few years, some of you have been writing for decades. I've spent half my life working at a career that, as of yet, has not moved beyond the amateur stage. Thirteen years is a long time for me, and I do get tired of missing deadlines. But that's part of being a writer.
If you're new to this, I just want you to be prepared. I don't want your enthusiasm crushed because you set a goal that isn't possible to reach. There will be plenty of instances that will make it difficult for you to move forward. I just hate to see writers create them for themselves.