Get Ready to be a Mystery Author: Part 1

man with laptop, author platform

You As An Author

It’s never too early to start your transition from writer to author. Once you start writing your mystery, spend some time establishing your presence as an author. You’ll be building your author platform where you tell readers about your book. Once your novel is published, you’ll have your author platform well in hand. 

You’ll want basic marketing materials with information about you and your books to share in as many ways as possible. When you start early you’ll give yourself time to create a solid professional message about you and your books.

The Business Mindset

Business mindset differs from your creative writing mindset. You’ll be learning about creating your author identity, marketing strategies, collecting and managing information (data) about your readers and sales, and other business details.

Learn from other businesses, including other authors. Set aside time in your schedule to focus on the business side of your author life. Be willing to start and willing to learn. Authors who embrace the business side create success. The basic principles of an author business mindset will get you started on your author business journey.

  • Think of your author self as a business entity
  • Consider your books your products
  • Learn successful methods to market your books
  • Be willing to test and test again

With a business mindset, you don’t give up creativity. Instead, you use it in a different way.

Create Your Marketing Platform

Your marketing platform is essential to your author business. Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, you need that platform. Creating your author platform takes time. Don’t try to do it all at once. Take a methodical, step-by-step approach to get the details right.

Agents want to see your platform before they represent your book. Many agents will not accept a book unless you have a platform designed and in place. A good reason to start early.
You will co-promote with a traditional publisher. The reason the agent wants to see your author platform is that publishers want to know you put energy into promoting your book(s).

If you are self-publishing, you will spend time weekly if not daily promoting your work.​

How to Start Your Author Platform

Creating your author platform takes time. Don’t try to do everything at once. Give yourself a month to set up your author platform activities. Setting these things up now teaches you a very useful skill for authors: dividing your time between writing and marketing. If you are serious about your author career, you need to learn this time management skill.

Before you establish your platform you need to prepare some basic materials. Keep these on hand for guest blog posts, podcast invitations, and media like print, television, and radio. 

1. Write a description of your book. You will probably revise this many times but write one. Pretend you are writing the blurb for the back cover.

2. Write an author bio for yourself. You will need several. A short one, 25-30 words, to post at the end of articles or on social media that does not allow for a long description, like Twitter. Then write at least two more, a 100-word bio and a 300-word bio. If you hire a publicist or decide to do your own publicity, you may want a 1000-word biography as well. You will probably rewrite these many times but start with something now.

3. Create a formal portrait of yourself both color and black and white. You can do this yourself with a plain background or hire a professional photographer.

4. Create a cover image for your book. You’ll want this for your website and any promotions you may do.

Once you’ve created the content for your platform, you are ready to build your platform where future readers can learn about you and your books. Start with an author website.​

Create Your Author Website ​

Your own author website is the foundation of your author platform. It’s your author base camp. Any sharing you do later on social media or with email campaigns will direct readers to your website.  

You can use free website services like WordPress.com or Wixto get started. If you have time and resources, you can become more involved and intricate with a self-hosted website using WordPress.org. You will need to monitor and update the self-hosted website for updates or hire someone to manage the site for you. If you have a large budget, you can hire a website designer to create a site for you. If you do, make sure you have access to add and change the content.​

Basic Pages for Your Website

Your website will have several pages. You can add more, but here are the basic pages you’ll need to get started.

  • An introduction to you as an author. 
  • Your bio and some words about why you are writing the book.
  • A page just for the book. Give potential readers a taste of the book with the book description and a short excerpt. Once your book is published, you will add links to where readers can buy your book.
  • A blog page. Most free and paid website services include a blog page. Update this with articles on a regular basis, at least once a month if not more regularly. The key is to be consistent. Write about your progress, your research, and your challenges. Readers love a personal feel.  

As you can see, there’s a lot of work in creating an author platform. But, there’s more. Next week, in Part 2, I’ll talk about connecting with readers with email. And, in Part 3, we’ll look at social media. 

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

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