Toni Weisskopf: The Black Swan Event and Publishing

Baen Books Publisher Toni Weisskopf began her address to Jody Lynn Nye’s Writer’s Two-Day Intensive Workshop with astute comments about the Black Swan event of 2020. Visions of Natalie Portman danced in my head.

That’s not what Weisskopf meant.

The erudite book impresario actually referred to Black Swan as “an event or occurrence previously thought to be impossible” (kudos, Free Dictionary). You know, like an unexpected pandemic that stopped commerce and killed and/or hospitalized millions. As Weisskopf pointed out, there was no retail for months. Independent bookstores survived, but their numbers diminished. The indie publishing market sold mostly in e-book format. Paperback book sales declined. But bookstores with vision created a niche for themselves. They did well.

In response to an inquiry about the benefits of reading paper versus electronic books, Weisskopf mentioned a study that found that readers had better recall from paper versus E-books (although some factors like age can affect results). She added that binge reading is like a drug. Nye said that reading draws rewards from the same portion of the brain.

Weisskopf also fielded questions about traditional and independent publishing with insights from her work as an editor.

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