Pre-trained models play an important role in deep learning based text detectors. However, most methods ignore the gap between natural images and scene text images and directly apply ImageNet for pre-training. To address such a problem, some of them firstly pre-train the model using a large amount of synthetic data and then fine-tune it on target datasets, which is task-specific and has limited generalization capability. In this paper, we focus on providing general pre-trained models for text detectors. Considering the importance of exploring text contents for text detection, we propose STKM (Self-attention based Text Knowledge Mining), which consists of a CNN Encoder and a Self-attention Decoder, to learn general prior knowledge for text detection from SynthText. Given only image level text labels, Self-attention Decoder directly decodes features extracted from CNN Encoder to texts without requirement of detection, which guides the CNN backbone to explicitly learn discriminative semantic representations ignored by previous approaches. After that, the text knowledge learned by the backbone can be transferred to various text detectors to significantly improve their detection performance (e.g., 5.89% higher F-measure for EAST on ICDAR15 dataset) without bells and whistles. Pre-trained model is available at: https://github.com/CVI-SZU/STKM.