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Hello.  I've been a technical writer for some years and am going to try writing a fictional book with a history/mystery feeling.  It's about a professional genealogist who, with the help of a range of characters in his historical society, helps people find answers they do -- and don't -- want to know from their past.  I understand very well the importance of marketing so I would welcome any advice you can offer on getting myself recognized so that when I knock on a publishers door, they will open it to me.  Thanks.  -- Curtis

Hi Curtis,

My advice is to work on building your career platform alongside learning the craft of fiction writing. Both subjects will take a bit of time and practice, but many writers focus only on learning the craft of writing. While this is necessary, when they finish the book and have polished it to perfection and ready to send out to potential publishers, they have done nothing to build name recognition and platform. They have no fan base ready to support their book when it is published. Ten years ago, this was not a big deal, the publishers would do much of this for you (marketing and promo). But these days, publishers want authors who not only write great stories, but who also have a solid, growing platform with potential readers/buyers already lined up. They also want authors who know how to market/promote themselves and will do it on their own dime. There are far less "slots" at publishing houses these days, and the competition is fierce. You have to present your books and yourself in the most professional manner, and sell your salesmanship abilities along with your book.

There are several workshops now on Platform building, and a few books, too. I recommend Christina Katz "Get Known Before the Book Deal" (which is for non-fiction authors, but you can make it fit to your needs, too). I have also co-written a book called "Nail It!: The Secret to Building an Effective Fiction Writer's Platform." The first book in this 5-part series is available on Amazon. I'm not trying to push my book on you, just making suggestions on places to find info on Platform building. I believe Writer's Digest has some classes/workshops on it, too. I learned all about platform over several years time, reading every book I could find on it (and usually, those only applied to non-fiction, but I made it work for my fiction career). Then I took that knowledge and filled a book with it so others wouldn't have to dig and work for it as hard as I did.

As for improving your craft, there are way too many books for me to mention. Two of my favorites are Debra Dixon's "GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict" and Chris Roerden's "Don't Murder Your Mystery."

Good luck and I hope I gave you something with which to get started.

Sorry for the delay in answering your question, I was on a booksigning tour and just returned home.

Ann Charles

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Ann Charles


I can answer questions from unpublished fiction authors (especially those who write in the mystery and romance genres) regarding building name recognition and platforms PRIOR to landing a publishing contract.


I am co-owner of the website,, in which authors (published and unpublished) learn, share, and teach about promotion. I have been studying how to build name recognition and platforms for unpublished authors for almost three years. I read anything I can find on the subject, which isn't much for unpublished authors, and consistently seek more information on it. I am practicing what I preach and have given multiple workshops on the subject. I also have a regular column in multiple professional newsletters and have an article coming out in a national trade magazine regarding this subject.

Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Murder Must Advertise

B.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Fiction. Ten plus years of writing fiction. Over two years of intense studying and learning about promotion and marketing, including attending several workshops on the subject. I also work with several other experts on the subject of fiction author promotion.

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