Selling to the Godfather:
How to join the Analog MAFIA
by Michael A. Burstein
Copyright © 1997 by Michael A. Burstein. All rights reserved.
First appearance in Broadside Three, July 1997
Ever since I was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, millions of fans have stopped me at conventions asking how they, too, could sell award-winning stories to Stanley Schmidt at Analog.
(Well, OK, not millions. More like ten. Or this one guy, at Lunacon, who was mixing up Analog and Asimov's. But I digress.)
Anyway, since Bucconeer is honoring the honorable Stan Schmidt by making him a Guest of Honor (without an honorarium), they honored me by asking me to honor their request for a small guide for everyone on how to sell a story to Analog.
Naturally, I turned them down. I didn't know how to sell a story to Analog, or I wouldn't have garnered ten rejection slips between my first two sales to Stan Schmidt and my next two. I only knew how to sell those four particular stories to Analog, right? But then, the more I thought about, the more I realized how valuable such an article might be. After all, I could use the publicity.
So here it is, a list of the five steps you can take to make a sale to Analog.
1. Get as many degrees in science as possible. Everyone knows that Analog writers are all technical wizards who can single-handedly repair hyperspace drives while being chased by the lizards of Epsilon Eridani through a wormhole to the fifth dimension. I myself earned two degrees in Physics to prepare me for my eventual low-paying career as a science fiction writer.
2. Start going bald and grow a beard, so as to emulate the esteemed editor. I noticed that while I still had my hair and remained clean-shaven, Stan kept sending back "TeleAbsence" for revision requests. Then it occurred to me that I wasn't doing my bit. So, I attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Workshop (which by contract I'm required to mention within the first sixty seconds of any article). While there, I had so much stress and so little time that I lost my hair and my beard grew to immense proportions, despite only being in my mid- twenties. Once I had returned, I rewrote my story, and this time the writing was easy and Stan bought it. I credit Clarion, for making me more like Stan Schmidt.
3. Put in music. Stan plays trumpet in a symphony orchestra. He's a sucker for a good music story.
4. Marry a linguist. My wife, Nomi, is a professional linguist, and Stan loves to play with languages himself. At the pre-Hugo reception in Anaheim, I cleverly absented myself from the room after introducing Nomi to Stan. Later, Stan was overheard to be muttering over and over, "Michael's wife is a linguist. Buy stories from Michael. Michael's wife is a linguist. Buy..." etc.
5. Watch Babylon 5 a lot. (Actually, I have no idea if Stan cares about Babylon 5 at all, so perhaps watching it a lot won't help you sell a story to Analog. But I like the show, and wanted to recommend it, and this is my article. Nyah.)
Finally, and on a serious note, I would say that if you want to sell a story to Stan Schmidt, read the Analog guidelines, follow them, and be persistent. Stan, like his predecessors before him, is committed to finding and publishing new writers, who have never sold a story before. I know. I was one of them, and I will always be grateful to Stan Schmidt for his help and his willingness to take a chance on me.