Back to Basics with Toni Weisskopf

Toni Weisskopf

Baen Books Publisher Toni Weisskopf coached attendees and alumni of Jody Lynn Nye’s Dragon Con Writer’s Workshop on publishing basics Thursday afternoon of the first virtual Dragon Con. Embellished with science fiction and fantasy literary and art sidebars, she provided practical answers to writers’ questions during an online video chat. 

Weisskopf said that after adjusting to the various crises and cancellations of live conventions, Baen has added new resources for writers, including online readings and the Baen Traveling Road Show at And if you miss going to live conventions, she suggested reading Baen’s anthology Give Me LibertyCon (edited by Christopher Woods and T.K.F. Weisskopf) as a substitute, including a very funny story by Nye about the Chattanooga science fiction/fantasy (literary) convention. 

After teasing that Baen “eviscerated” submitted manuscripts, Weisskopf gave a step-by-step guide to submitting novels to Baen and their editing process from developmental through copy editing and proofreading to publication. She also discussed how a synopsis or outline that revealed the ending helped her decide whether to acquire a novel. When asked what makes her happy, she said a unique voice and added that if you write about what you care about, what you are passionate about, your audience will find you. 

When asked which were her favorite books, Weisskopf answered by listing authors. She began with Robert Heinlein, stating that you can’t pigeonhole the author who wrote both Starship Troopers and Stranger in A Strange Land within a few years of each other. She noted that Heinlein had learned craft by reading Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling. She added Lois McMaster Bujold and Andre Norton to her list, saying that both sucked you in. She ended her favorites with Georgette Heyer who, she assured the attentive writers, could teach authors of fantasy and science fiction about seamlessly introducing readers to an alien world. Nye added that Jack McDevitt was also very smooth at world building; reading his ninth book in a series was as fresh as reading the first and was never mired in back story. 

Author of the article

Amy L. Herring (Louise Herring-Jones) writes speculative fiction, with a preference for historical fantasy and alternate mystery. Her stories, appearing in fourteen anthologies, include “The Poulterer’s Tale” in God Bless Us, Every One—Christmas Carols beyond Dickens (Voodoo Rumors Media, 2019). Amy is a NaNoWriMo co-municipal liaison. She also coordinates the Huntsville (Alabama) Literary Association’s writers’ group. Visit her online at