How do I Become a Mystery Author?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2018
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To become a successful mystery author, it is necessary to write a mystery novel and find a publisher who will accept it. This can be a long process, with the potential to take many years, but it is important to be patient and persistent when trying to become an author. To become a mystery author, it is important to write as much as possible, and to have a have a solid grasp of plot development.

Published writers often recommend that aspiring authors try to write something every single day in order to develop your skills and hone your craft. Begin by determining the type of mysteries you want to write. "Whodunits," for example, are fairly classic mysteries where an individual or group attempts to solve a mystery by finding clues. Cozy mysteries or puzzle mysteries are similar to these as well. They often take place in a small, isolated town, feature likable characters, and do not generally include violence.

If you want to write more realistic mysteries, you might choose to write police procedurals or hardboiled mysteries. These are more realistic, and may involve police officers, detectives, or even vigilante-type characters solving crimes through conventional or non-conventional means. This style of novel is often more violent as well, and is more often found in urban settings. Of course, anyone who wants to become a mystery author is free to change these genres and styles to suit his or her own particular preferences.


Typically, when you choose to become a mystery author, you generally work within one genre of mystery. Of course, this is not a requirement, but many popular mystery authors develop devoted readerships based on the predictable style of their novels, and unique characters that carry over from one book to the next. Mystery novels often have more intricate plots than general fiction, and so an organized, analytical approach to plot development is key. When you become a mystery author, consider also whether you want to write standalone novels or create serialized novels; short stories are an option as well. In the mystery genre, serialized novels are fairly popular.

After you have written a manuscript, it may be a good idea to have a few people check it over for glaring errors or confusing areas; joining a critique group is an even better idea. Then, you can send a query to a literary agent or publisher. Be sure to research agents and publishers ahead of time to learn about their requirements; for instance, some only want a query letter, others want a letter and part of the manuscript, and others want the entire manuscript. Not following the directions will get your masterpiece thrown in the trash without even a glance. Once an agent or publisher accepts your work, they will notify you, and you will be well on your way to becoming a mystery author.



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