If you want to become a successful cozy mystery author, your workflow needs to be optimized to provide the best quality story for your readers. It requires a lot more than simply writing and publishing your novel.

Here is the type of workflow we recommend if you want to consistently publish high-quality cozy mystery novels:

  1. Start with your protagonist. Then build your story idea from there.
  2. Outline your story. Outline how you want each chapter to be executed.
  3. Edit/revise your outline. Have a friend look at it if you need a second opinion.
  4. Start writing. Set a realistic goal for yourself that aligns with a consistent publishing schedule for your books.
  5. Engage alpha readers. An alpha reader is the first person (other than yourself) who reads your story. Pick and choose what feedback you’ll use to revise your story.
  6. Revise, revise, revise. Revise the parts of your story you feel need changed, and you can also revise some other areas based on the alpha reader feedback you received.
  7. Get a developmental edit. If you can’t afford an editor at this stage in your career, you must learn how to do this yourself. During this stage, you (or your editor) will analyze your story for any plot holes or overall elements that need adjusting, such as character arcs, story arcs, pacing, themes, etc.
  8. Revise. Make changes to your story based on the feedback you received from your developmental editor.
  9. Get a line edit. If you can’t afford an editor, focus here on smoothing out the flow of your writing and looking for any grammar errors.
  10. Revise. Make changes based on the feedback you received from your line editor.
  11. Engage beta readers. Your story will be much cleaner by this point, so in a perfect situation, you’re hoping for very little constructive feedback on what doesn’t work. No story or edit is perfect, however, so some readers might find something you or your editor didn’t catch.
  12. Revise, revise, revise. Revise based on both what you feel needs to be changed and any beta reader feedback you received that you want to implement into your story.
  13. Get a copy edit. At this stage, your copy editor will be looking for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. They’ll also be ensuring all your story details are consistent.
  14. Format your book. You can either do this yourself or hire someone else to do this.
  15. Get a proofread. To get the best results from your proofreader, your novel should already be formatted. They will make their comments on the PDF in the margins to outline what errors in the design or typos in the text they noticed.
  16. You should proofread your book yourself also. Don’t only rely on your proofreader to catch everything.
  17. Make your corrections. Make any necessary corrections on your final proof.

Is this a lot of work? You bet your ass it is. It’s not a dealbreaker if you skip some of these steps, but you will publish a better book if you follow most of them. At the very least, we hope you at least put together a short list of things out of this long list that work for you and your process.