Further Reading

This suggested Further Reading is split into two sections. The first is books written for magicians by magicians, and are available through magic suppliers. These books cover magic in all styles, but I have tried to focus these on books about magical theory, presentation and marketing.

The second is books written for the general public at large, not for magicians. I personally find these better as it enables you look at the concepts without going through a “magic” filter. Magicians have a habit of writing about what they found to work for themselves, or copying what other magicians do.

The recommended reading list is just the highlights, and my shelves are full of books – many of which do contain good ideas. Feel free to expand your reading to other books written by the same authors, or blogs, podcasts and articles written by other magicians and marketing experts.

As well as reading, make sure you make a note of ideas you think will work, then actually try them out. You could read as many health and fitness books as you like, but you won’t get fitter if you don’t do the exercise!

If you have read a book that you found helpful please drop me a line and I can add it: [email protected].

Different Between “Professional” and “Professional”

The following is an article I wrote on my blog, but thought to include it as you may find it interesting and/or amusing.

Last week I was having a conversation with another magician about the phrase “professional magician”, discussing what it meant from a potential booker’s point of view.

The views being that “professional” gives the impression that the person does this for their main income (not a way to earn money on the side), the transaction will be handled properly (contracts, invoices, receipts, etc) and the product (ie., the quality of the entertainment) will be of a good standard.

To change context, you would want a professional plumber to install a new boiler, but an odd-job man is fine for changing a washer in the kitchen tap.

However, if an amateur magician (who performed a few bits for friends and family) lost their main income then they could legitimately say they are then a professional magician by default.

But others imply that to be professional just means that they ACT professional. This means that though magic isn’t their main source of income, they still provide a professional service to a professional standard.

Whilst this is may be an interpretation, it isn’t actually true to the definition of the word “professional”, and a potential client may not be so eager to book a magician who says they offer a professional level of service; compared to a magician who is a full time professional.

I’m not doing this to embarrass anyone, we all need to start somewhere; but as the saying goes you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Moral of the story: If someone says they are professional they should have a website (not homemade, Facebook page or created by “Mr Site”), business cards (not free/cheapo ones from Vista Print), pictures of previous performances and plenty of testimonials. And they should also derive the majority of their income from performing magic.

Advice for Amateur Magicians

The following is an article I wrote on my blog, but thought to include it as you may find it interesting and/or amusing.

Here’s some tongue-in-cheek advice for the wannabe magician – hopefully it shows that there is more to professionally presenting magic and making it entertaining. (And some of the jokes are aimed at magicians who will get the references.)

If it is a wedding remember that YOU are the most important person there. Occasionally a bride who has been dreaming of this day for 20 years may want to talk to some of her family that she hasn’t seen for years – but it is absolutely imperative they must watch your version of Daley’s Aces. After all, they have all evening to catch up, where as you are only there for two hours and will probably only have a chance to perform it eighteen or so times.

Worse is the father of the bride who has spent over £20k on the day and his heartfelt and emotional speech about his only daughter over-runs slightly. Though you can’t interrupt him at the time the best way to overcome this is to get your phone out and have a quick moan about it on Facebook – so all the other magicians can see how pro you are, perhaps saying how you will still leave at exactly 8:00pm as that’s what you’ve got on the contract. Once the speeches are over it also pays to make a couple of sarcastic comments about the length of the speech to the other guests.

Bear in mind that people enjoying themselves may not like to be interrupted. But remember: your magic is far more important than anything they could be talking about. People especially like to be spoken down to by a condescending adolescent who thinks that The Apprentice is a programme full of inspirational role-models.

If you’ve been practising a move a lot recently make sure you include it. Displays of skill are always appreciated. Remember, your friends at the magic club thought it was great (though they probably didn’t mention that you did flash a bit) and the lay public are exactly the same.

As far as angles are concerned, it is the audience’s fault if they are positioned in the wrong place. If someone does spot something or manages to work out how the trick was accomplished make sure you tell them they are wrong, preferably whilst trying to put them down in front of their friends and family. This will ensure that they will side with you in the argument and you can walk away with your head held high.

The phrases “what I’m going to do now” and “let’s try something” are vitally important and cannot be over-used. Make sure you mention every prop and action you use. For example, “What I’m going to do now is to shuffle the deck” – sometimes people may not be concentrating so need the absolutely obvious pointed out to them. Some people are also unable to count so make sure you count any cards you deal off – even a number as low as four should be counted down to.

Instead of introducing yourself as a magician, just go straight into a trick so they don’t have an opportunity to say “no”. However, don’t ask them if they’ve dropped a red penknife, otherwise you risk looking a complete idiot.

Bonus Material – Introduction

This section has a few additional extras in, that don’t fit within the Course itself.

First are the details regarding further consultations on Skype so I can help with your new carer as a professional magician.

Then I’ve included are a few articles. These are just some amusing anecdotes and stories, but as an aspiring professional magician there are some lessons buried within each that you may find of interest.

I’ve also included some recommended reading. The “magic” related books should be easy enough to track down through a magic dealer, eBay, or with a quick search on the internet. The regular “sales” books should be available through Amazon or other good book shop.

Seeing a Physic

The following is an article I wrote on my blog, but thought to include it as you may find it interesting and/or amusing.

As someone who regularly stands up on stage and tells people what they are thinking of and things I couldn’t possible know about them, I decided to pop along to a local venue that was holding a “spiritualist  evening” and see how the real life mediums do it.

Firstly, what struck me was balance of the sexes. The main medium that evening was male, there were two other males doing private readings, and a woman on the door. In the audience it was only myself and another chap, and about forty woman ranging in ages. To try and blend in a little (and for those that know me this is easier said than done) I acted the part of the driver who’s been dragged along by his wife – who also attended.

Once the room was filled our medium introduced himself and within minutes he was speaking to the spirits. His method for choosing how he communicated was to select someone from the audience then give them names and information. This was contrary to the method I was suspecting he would use, which is to give a name (or piece of information), then find someone whom it matched directly. Though this method was used on occasion, and I will mention that in a minute.

This immediately leads me to think that the medium isn’t out to con and deliberately deceive the audience as a whole; though whether his powers are real is debatable, I was certain he at least thinks he has a contact with the spirit world. He also wasn’t putting it on just to entertain.

Why did I come to this conclusion? Well, by choosing one person and asking if the name “John” means anything to them is likely to get a positive reaction, but still leaves options for a negative response. If I, as a magician/performer/entertainer, were to do this, I would ask all 40 people if any of them knew “John” – and out of 40 people you are a lot more likely to get someone giving the positive response, usually backing it up with more information.

For example, they may call out, “Yes! My father was called John. Do you have him with you?” The medium now knows this person’s father was called John, and more importantly has died.

Of course, he never actually asked if people knew “John” as I have just illustrated, but pretty much any question could be inserted to get similar positive responses. For example, “Does the 8th of August mean anything?”, “I have a young man who died in an accident with me now. Anyone? Possibly in a car. Anyone…?”, “I have an elderly man who liked gardening, does that make sense?”

By selecting the person he was reading first and then giving the information he naturally hit quite a few negatives, though this didn’t stop him. Some of his methods of digging himself out of these holes was genius, practically doing U-turns then claiming the audience member was in the wrong for misunderstanding him in the first place.

However, once something did hit he quickly (especially in the first handful of readings when needing to gain the confidence of the audience) made use of a technique known amongst salesmen as the “yes set”. Basically, a salesman asks his potential buyer a series of questions that they will likely say yes to, get them used to agreeing to him. When he asks if they want to make the purchase it is less likely they will say no. This also ensures that the audience as a whole can see that the medium is hitting home with each point.

A typical reading would be:

“You madam, does the name John mean anything to you, yes?”
“Yes, it was my father’s name.”
“And he’s in the spirit world now, yes?”
“It was quite recent, yes?”
“Um, not that recent.”
“I mean about 5 years or so ago, yes?”
“And it was something to do with his heart, yes?”
“Umm, not really. It was lung cancer.”
“But yes, it was the chest region, yes?”
“Well, yes.”
“Anyway, no matter what the cause, we all die because out heart stops beating!”

I use this little dialogue to illustrate how the audience will remember this as a sequence of statements that all get a “yes” response – even though the medium is posing the statements as questions and it is him that is answering with the positive assumption. However, the last jokey line was something he said, talk about the perfect “get-out-of-jail-free” card!

You can also see that each statement was actually a question, designed to get the person to say “yes”.

As I mentioned earlier, I genuinely think he was not trying to deceive. He was obviously very good at picking up signals and was quite intuitive.

If he was out to con he was have put on more of a show. Although he was comfortable standing and talking in front of a room full of people with no props or scripts to hide behind, he didn’t understand staging. He wasn’t aware that some people were losing interest (something an entertainer or comedian would notice) or if he was aware, he didn’t feel like he needed to pick the pace up to win their interest back.

Similarly, there was no grand finish. Bands save their big hits to end, magicians save the big trick and comedians finish with that killer punch line that ties up their routine. This medium just said the spirits weren’t coming through and fizzled out. If I was directing his show I would suggest most interesting spirit/story/revelation would be left to the end. He would act as so it were a struggle, but the climax would be impressive and the audience left stunned.

Up to this point I must admit I felt sorry for the medium. As a whole the audience were appreciative and he was getting a lot of yeses. I felt that he is someone who himself hears the yeses and goes home forgetting about the nos. He really thinks he has a Native American spirit guide, and the crystals around his neck focus the energies.

And why knock him? It would be easy. However, I think it best to let him, and those believers in the audience go along with it. As a person they are fine, they pay their bills and contribute to society. To knock someone for their beliefs is wrong, especially as it doesn’t do anyone any harm; and if anything helps someone get “closure” by giving them an opportunity to say good-bye to a family member then surely that’s a positive?

Also I also had a reading from the medium (and could easily pick it apart now) I played my part as the dragged along partner who was mildly sceptical but still said yes on the hits, and didn’t put up too much of a barrier to the misses.

However, there was one part that did sicken me, and this I believe was something the medium deliberately used to get a yes, and at the same time create an emotional hook that pulled the audience back onto his side.

He had been having a run of misses and a few objections to some of the information he had been giving; and I could feel the audience were starting to lose interest and confidence in him, and this time he did pick up on this.

Now, remember, up to this point he had been choosing the audience member, then giving the information directly to them. Suddenly, this time he asked the audience as a whole. He claimed he had the spirit of a child with him, but a child that went straight to the spirit world.

Now, to a room containing forty women there statistically is a very good chance that one of them has had a miscarriage, still birth or abortion. And, if one of them didn’t, it’s very likely one of those forty women knows someone (friend or family) who has.

As it turned out there was a lady who answered (through her tears) and although the medium didn’t give any further information, he said the child was now at piece and was happy.

It was this point in the show that I grated on me the most. Whether the medium got his information by the spirits, intuition or just plain guessing; the use of the child spirit was a device he deliberately used to pull the audience back on his side.

The show has made me think about how I perform such feats in my show, and how to present them. I firmly believe that I could have taken that audience and given them all a show that would have got a lot more yeses, and been more entertaining. However, the difference is I would acknowledge that I am not in tune with the spirits, but used a variety of techniques to make it appear as such.

I have tried to keep a degree of open-mindedness to this account, though my sceptical nature has no doubt come through the most. It has not been my intention to deliberately knock anyone and their beliefs, nor to offend those beliefs. I think it is too easy for believers (and sceptics) on either side of the fence to loudly voice their opinions, and be deaf to the opinions of others.

Future Skype Consultations

Further to the 30 minute Skype consultation included with the course we can have further follow-up consultations (if you feel it necessary). Some people like being accountable to someone else, or just to check they are going in the right direction before making a big decision.

I’m hoping that this course and a 30 minute consultation will be enough for most people, if you’d like to find out more about additional consultations please email me: [email protected] and let me know how I can help you.

Use coupon code MEMBER30 for an exclusive member’s only 30% discount when booking consultations.

Online Business Consultations

30 Minute Skype Consultation

I want you to get as much as possible from this course, and I realise that though I’ve tried to cover as much as possible, it isn’t possible to go into the finest detail in every single area in every single topic.

This is partly for practical reasons – the course would be so huge no one would ever make it to the end. Also, because the world is changing the content would be constantly changing. Even in the few years since I started writing this course there have been changes in how magic is perceived by the public, what styles are popular and the marketing techniques involved.

But one of the biggest reasons it wouldn’t work is because we are unique. What works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. This goes from the way we perform our magic, our style, our brand and through to how we market ourselves.

For example, some magicians find that performing a Sponge Ball routine is their favourite trick, gets great reactions and is their go-to trick in any situation. Personally, I haven’t performed it in years. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean no one should do it.

Likewise with business and marketing. At the moment (and it could change!) I find PPC advertising brings me the most new business, but other magicians can’t get to grips with it and swear by boosting their Social Media posts – a method I’ve had no personal success with.

Therefore I’m happy to spend half an hour on Skype with you to discuss this course and help you become a successful professional magician. All I ask before the you contact me to arrange it is:

  • You have read the course (no point asking me questions you already have the answers to!)
  • You have taken required action (such as writing your business plans).

Then drop me an email at [email protected] and we’ll work out a suitable time. It would also be beneficial if you make a list of any areas you want to develop or need extra help with so I can prepare, and therefore ensure you get the maximum amount of value from our Skype chat.

Look forward to chatting with you soon!