Every Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of science fiction and fantasy fans descend on the Hunt Valley Marriott for Balticon, the annual Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention. From Friday to Monday, they get to puruse the goods in the dealer’s room, pick up free books and ‘zines, and geek out with other fans of their favorite books, TV shows, and movies. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the event boasts a great writing track as well.
I’ve been a fan of science fiction and fantasy as a category of fiction—whether in books, movies, or TV shows—all my life, having grown up on Doctor Who, Star Wars, the Chronicles of Narnia and Chronicles of Prydain, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and writers like Piers Anthony, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Melanie Rawn, and more. I haven’t met any of my favorite authors there yet, but I have met a lot of cool up-and-coming authors like Trisha Wooldridge and Kelly Harmon.
This year, my second at Balticon, I only did two panels:
- Writers’ Tips and Tricks
- Are the Editor and Copyeditor the Writer’s Enemies? How to Work Together Effectively
But the highlight of the weekend for me was giving a special two-hour presentation with my good friend and fellow writer, Angela Render, on Marketing Platforms for Writers.
Getting published is hard, especially for a first-time author. Publishers expect you to come with a platform. Speakers will explain what a platform is and how to start building it with an overview of appropriate tools.
Here’s what a couple of participants had to say:
Ally was well-organized, tangible, savvy, and most important, passionate about moving writers to believe in ourselves and to find the optimal ways to preach our gospels to the rafters. Tremendous!—Tad Daley, author of Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World
Thanks again for your excellent presentation at Balticon. The information in your presentation was very valuable to a beginning author like myself, and I feel very fortunate to have attended it.—Constance Warner, Hunt Valley, MD
This talk was a great one-two punch: I began with my signature talk on author platforms, which explains what they are, how they’re used to sell books, and why you need one. I also offered some tips on how to get started. Angela finished up with a thorough introduction to building your platform on the Internet, which is the cheapest and easiest way to get started and a very effective venue for the long run.