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Topic: Dover paperbacks
Message: Posted by: stanalger (Feb 18, 2013 11:26AM)
I'd love to hear the story of how your [i]Close-Up Magic Secrets[/i] became a Dover paperback.
I love Dover paperbacks!
Message: Posted by: Diamond Jim (Feb 18, 2013 02:54PM)
Okay. This is the first chance I've had to sit in front of my computer in days. I'm going to give you the whole story.

Pockets Full of Miracles released the summer of 2000. By the summer of 2001 it was out of print. The profits from that book helped to make the down payment on my home. I had been performing professionally since 1986. I had won the award for Best Close-Up Magic in 1999 and played the Magic Castle for the first time that year. Once PFM was released things snow-balled for me.

The book was self-published. It is very expensive to do so but it was so worth it. I am very hands on when it comes to producing my products. When something is beyond my grasp I will call in an expert. Anyways back to PFM.

There was a gentleman in Dallas named Lew Zafran. Lew was reverred as the Dai Vernon of Dallas. He did incredible sleight of hand magic up in to his eighties, he was a master craftsman, he was funny, and he had a twinkle in his eye much like Walt Disney.

Lew was an enigmatic figure that would visit the magic shop I worked in as a teenager. His nephew Jeff Davis was the top restaurant worker in Dallas who was very skilled, funny and classy. Jeff gave me some of my first restaurant gigs. I didn't really become best friends with Lew until Jeff moved to California. So while in his eighties Lew and I were the best of friends who would watch movies, brainstorm on magic, play backgammon, etc. Lew was very wise. He told me one day that he was extremely impressed with my ideas and that many were unique and that I should write them up. So I did and wrote up The Gunslinger. Seen here: http://www.diamond-jim.com/book/gunslinger.htm

After I wrote up the Gunslinger I called up Lew to tell him that I had begun writing my first book and that I had completed writing the first routine. To my shock I learned that Lew had died the night I wrote it up. I was devastated. He was my best friend, my mentor, and my cheerleader. At his funeral I met Lew's son named Robert. I told Robert about the book I was writing and Robert informed me that he was an editor and would gladly edit the book for free. Once completed Jeff Davis, my mentor as well, and nephew to Lew wrote the Introduction. It was like a family project. Little did I know after releasing the book how many doors would be opened for me.

LESSSON #1: Brainstorm with your friends. Create a network whom you can bounce ideas off of. You will learn so much about your craft and become a better magician for it.

Anyways, after the book went out of print I let it lay dormant for awhile. I started producing individual effect for sell from the book like my Ring & String, New Age Spellbound, and the Animated Cardbox. Those tricks sold well. Shortly thereafter I was approached by MagicSmith to make a VHS set of PFM. You have to remember that back then DVD was kind of the new thing and hadn't completely taken off on the magic market. Anyways, MagicSmith's offer trumped L&L's offer and from friends that I talked to like Doc Eason, MagicSmith was offering me a great deal so I took it. I had considered doing everything myself but I would be risking a lot of money and I had never produced a video before. So the double VHS set that sold for $50 released about 2003-2004 I think. So someone had to spend $50 to learn my routines and DVDs had begun outselling VHS tapes. I begged Chris to release it on DVD but he logically wanted to make his money back on it before investing in it again. Chris was wonderful to work with and for by the way. So eventually I bought the rights back around 2005 or 2006 and released it on DVD. One month later I had all my money back and then some. To date it is my best selling DVD and still sells on a regular basis. Gregory Wilson has told me that for the money he thinks it is one of the best DVDs out there. That is high praise from someone who I hold in regard.

LESSON #2 for me was learning that I don't like relinquishing control of my products. I don't like letting others determine the fate of my works. So I have produced the last 4 of my DVDs.

So... PFM the book was dormant for years because I did not want to compete with my own product. I thought why lug books around the world and make a small mark up when I can sell a DVD for the same price and it costs a few bucks to make.

I have lugged books and lecture notes around the world and it is not fun. DVDs are the viable option. Of course now one could download things so one doesn't need DVDs or CDs but that is a topic for another conversation. I don't know if I'll ever release my material for download. Not until I can figure out a way that other's can't steal it or share it freely.

In 2008 or so I became friends with Martin Gardner. Mr. Gardner as most of you know was a prolific author and many of us owe thanks to him for his body of insightful work. His book the Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic is probably my favorite book on magic. I visited Martin often in his apartment in Norman, OK. Martin was sharp as a tack and still writing up into his 90s. I showed him my book PFM and he suggested that I contact Dover since he had published works through them.

Like many of you I grew up learning from Dover books. Their books have a special place in my heart from my youth.

I don't have children. My works are like my kids. We all want our works or kids to live beyond our years and carry on our name. I knew that if I contacted Dover my book would reach a wider audience. Plus as an artist, and as a man, I feel the need to pay it forward. I'm always proud when I hear that others have learned something from me. Plus, let's be honest, who doesn't like having their ego stroked and seeing their name in print.

So I negotiated a deal with Dover unlike most of their deals. Martin thought I was very smart and was like a proud father when I told him the contracts had been signed. Dover does not own the rights. I leased them the rights and over time they will divert back to me where we can renegotiate or go our seperate ways.

Dover wanted a more direct title and to change the cover. I was opposed at first but eventually I saw the benefits in doing so. Pockets Full of Miracles originally retailed for $40. That same book sells for over $100 now. The Dover edition sells for $15. I don't think collector's need to worry about this diminishing the value of their hard copy of PFM because it doesn't change the fact that only 1500 of those were made.

I may eventually one day reprint PFM. I don't know. Right now I have many other projects in the works.

Any magicians who are reading this I highly suggest you write up your routines. You learn so much about yourself as an artist and why you do the things you do and why you say the things you say. It will make you question your motives sometimes and help you to grow.

I'll also tell you that writing does not come easy to me. I have to be clear-minded and have complete silence. It's rare for me to have days like that. But when I do I can write furiously. I just completed my fourth book and I have many others that I'd like to write.

Writing and learning from you work is its own reward.
Being able to market and sell it is another reward.
Watching others perform your works is blissful.
Knowing that others will still be learning from me when I'm dead and gone is the most one could hope for.
Message: Posted by: Diamond Jim (Feb 18, 2013 03:05PM)
I'll just add that I do miss Martin and Lew and bouncing ideas off of them. In both instances in my story for PFM two great men helped me to further my work. While both men inspired me I already knew what should be done. Sometimes it takes a little push from someone else for us to do the great things we are meant to do. I try to tell myself these days, "Don't ask permission from others just do it!" We all know what we need to do to better our business or lives but it's the doing that is difficult.

Want to lose weight? Work out. Eat right.
Want to increase your business? Work harder. Make cold calls. Get better at follow up.
Want to become a better speaker? Participate with ToastMasters. Take Theater Classes.
Anyways.. enough preaching.
Message: Posted by: motown (Feb 19, 2013 10:27PM)
I bought the Dover version. Excellent book.