Savvy novelists understand that they must be thoroughly prepared to market themselves and their novels. Creating a novelist marketing platform means finding out how readers know you and finding ways for them to know you and to buy your novels.
Determine your genre, expertise and audience. Search the shelves of local bookstores and get a feel for where your novel, when published, will belong. Determine your expertise. A certain theme of life (such as love conquers all, the end justifies the means, cheaters never prosper, etc.) could be your expertise. Converse with your audience. Write a letter to an imagined reader of your manuscript or seek out readers of your novel's genre and topics. Find readers in the same section as you at the bookstore or library, in book groups, book clubs, online discussion and forums.
Cultivate your platform. Make sure you will be passionate about sustaining this platform. Brainstorm potential ways that your platform will continue to grow. For example, if you do readings to attract more readers, could you foray into podcasts and audiobooks? Look for ways to continue moving in directions that help readers take notice of you.
Work and network for your platform. Join professional organizations and associations relevant to your platform and actively plan and take part in your involvement beyond paying your dues. Mingle with others at events and make contacts. Rather than hunting down important people, strike up a friendly conversation and seek commonalities to create a good and professional first impression. Volunteer, consult and teach on the topics which add to your visibility, thus enhancing your platform.
Build your resume of writing credits. Submit to anthologies by identifying the topics you--and therefore your audience--care about.
Prepare yourself for publicity. Have a professional novelist website. Have a head shot ready. Prepare a media handout.