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Miami, FL
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Profile of Zednanreh
A long time ago in a thread not so far away... yes, its cliché, but that is the motivation behind writing this. Several months ago, I wrote an article to discuss a growing problem in the magic community. I doubt that it will ever end as long as the almighty dollar is backing our lives. For those of you reading and not quite sure of what is being discussed, I shall summarize.

Several months ago when I was starting to design my routine, my set of tricks to perform for lay people, I noticed a trend. For short, many bad effects and marketing was rampant. (Note: I will use the word "effect" and "trick" interchangeably) I was analyzing what kind of reaction I would get from different tricks, usually based on text descriptions or online demos. I saw many problems, not just by the different vendors selling the effect but also by the effect themselves. In response, I decided to write the 'previous' version of this article to combat this issue to a certain extent. This article, simply put, is targeted towards effect designers that want to sell their creations. I want to reduce the growing number of wastes of time and money that are quickly arising in the Magic community. This article is NOT written as an attack or in hatred of any person, idea, effect, or related. It is only intended to be used as a learning tool for everyone who reads it. Now that the entire mumbo-jumbo and background story has been explained and put aside, it is time to move onto the meat and potatoes.

People often see how commercial a trick is and then just buy it on recommendation or desire to know how it works. When I began designing a routine, I felt that it should flow from one trick into another. What is "flow"? Let us step away from magic for a moment to understand this important concept that helped structure the origin of this article. In the movie Memento the main character is unable to remember anything for more than 10 to 15 minutes. The movie plays out chronologically backwards, meaning the first few things you see after the starting credits are at the end of the story. Every few minutes the movie will jump backwards in time and redo the same scene. Then the movie jumps forward and shows something that led to the previous scene. For first time viewers of this movie, this can be very frustrating and this is what usually deterred many people from ever finishing (starting) the movie. This movie is "out of flow." The scenes do not always logically connect with each other. Due to this, people get psychologically frustrated with the jumping around constantly. Returning to magic, I believe that one trick should lead clearly and cleanly into the next when performing a routine. For example, it would seem silly to start your routine with a gambling theme then move into a levitation, then into a card manipulation set and finish with coin work. That has no logical connection, but that is what some magicians do. I feel a magic performance should be limited to one ideology, not to a mix of "cool and neat effects." All this will do is confuse spectators and make them want to perform the 21-card trick to show you up.

The first phase in the whole process is development. This is the most important of all the steps because it is the foundation for the effect. Let us say we were developing a method to produce and vanish items and show hands cleanly empty before and after. The thumb tip would be our solution. To develop this idea you would have to consider the options of what you have available during and after the effect. There are many ways to do this effect, but this would be the decided invention. When developing an idea like this, there are several very important questions to ask:

Is this idea truly unique or is it just a mix of existing effects?

Should the effect even be brought to market or rather just be printed in a magic magazine?

Is there a need for such an effect or are you just going to create an artificial demand?

Am I just creating a magician fooler?

Let us look at these one by one... "Is this idea truly unique or is it just a mix of existing effects?" Dariel Fitzkee wrote in his book Trick Brain about the 19 possible magical occurrences. All magical effects can fall under one of those categories. It is very difficult to create an effect outside these boundaries. Magic is creating a personal and memorable occurrence to an audience.

If you look at many magic magazines of today and yesteryear, they are often filled with many card revelations. How many "impossible locations" actually exist? Out of a hat, out of a shoe, in someone's pocket, a neon sign...etc. It gets very redundant and makes the magician look less like a magician and more like a 21 card sleight of hand artist.

What is magical? A lay audience seeing Triumph being performed for the first time would get much more response than the same performance in front of a group of seasoned magicians. If the effect you are developing is the so called "magician fooler," be sure your additional work merits the time people will spend learning and practicing it. Some effects, albeit ingenious and creative, should only be published in a magazine. The benefit of publishing in a magazine is the establishment of name recognition. There is no better way to sell a future product than by becoming famous. Look at Michael Jordan; he does not need to work a day for the rest of his life and can keep making money off royalties. I am not saying that you will be able to retire for developing something for the magic community, but I am saying that it is sometimes better to give something free early on so that people can desire your future products.

The next step is testing the product yourself. Since you are a magician, you probably know how to perform for people. To test correctly an effect, you need to have an established routine and a certain location where that type of effect belongs. If you do not perform the effect yourself, why bother trying to sell it to someone else? If the inventor does not endorse their own product, who else will? During your personal testing phase, you must perform the effect many times to different audiences in context. In addition to performing the effect you are developing, you must perform similar effects. See how people react to your effect in comparison to your trick. By doing this, you can begin to see the strong and weak points of your effect and later improve on them. This is the most crucial of steps because this is what defines how commercial an effect is. If the effect turns out to have mediocre "bang for the buck," then the effect should only qualify for a publication or for storage for later redevelopment. In addition to actually performing it, you need to develop patter and streamline the handling. Be able to write down a clear and precise handling so that someone who has never seen you perform it can follow along.

With the advent of the Internet, communication, especially among magicians, has multiplied. You should then take advantage of this and contact other magicians. You should ask them for their opinion on what you are trying to develop. Make a video of a performance of the effect and send it to another magician. If they say it is junk, do not feel discouraged. Ask about what makes it strong and what its flaws are. They may even give ideas for different handlings and patter lines. Use them as a tool.

The next step is what can be called beta testing. At this phase of development, you must give out, free, to a limited number of magicians, a sample of the effect. They in turn must incorporate it into their routines and perform it for a wide variety of people just as you had. When doing this, you get a much wider variety of responses and reactions. As a benefit, they can also provide feedback on handling problems, patter inconsistencies, and reactions from spectators. If the spectators did not notice or remember anything out of the ordinary from the routine, the effect obviously is not standing out, as it should. Once you have gathered all the pertinent information from the different sources, redesign the effect as needed and repeat this cycle with the same group of people. Once you are satisfied with the feedback, it is time to go to market.

The magic community is a small one and due to this, only the rare and noteworthy effects are the ones that end up making money. If you are entering the magic sales business to make a quick buck, it will be detectable in your work. As said before, if you develop a bad effect, your name will become infamous rather than famous. Gary Freed, inventor of NFW, has brought up the fact that the name of the effect is also important. Names that are catchy and memorable help surpass others. One easily surpassed the other. When it comes to selling your effect, you have two options. The first option is to sell directly to people. This requires the most time and effort but can have a larger payback. It would require you to set up a website, attend magic conventions, or post advertisements in magic magazines. You would need to find a studio to record your instructional video (if you are going to make one), a printer to print instructions (it is highly suggested to include photos, drawings, and anything else that will help), and a DVD duplicator to multiply your video. It would be wise not to produce VHS copies since the technology is quickly fading away. All these aspects are additional expenses you need to deal with when selling directly to individuals. If you choose a dealer or distributor, you take out the direct dealing with people. You would be able to sell many copies to one distributor, but at a reduced price.

If you put your heart and soul behind an effect, it will show when someone opens up the packaging and people will not say, "I could have thought of that!" ...instead, they will say, "Wow, why didn't I think of that? That's smart!" Creating magic is not simple. It is an art.

So you want to market or sell your trick? Before you do, read this!
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Inner circle
MayfieldNew York
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Profile of djvirtualreality
Very nice. That helps me a lot cause of all of my creations lately. Smile You know the ones I'm talking about. Smile Thanks.
Life is an illusion, death is reality.
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Simon Shaw, Suffolk, England
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Profile of Bananafish
Alex - that was an excellent article. Thank you.
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San Jose, Ca
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Profile of pbg739
Wow, very nicely put!

Oz Fan
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Profile of Oz Fan
That was a great piece of info Alex! It helped a lot!

Blake S.
Daniel Santos
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Profile of Daniel Santos
That's probably the best LONG piece I've ever read. LoL I really enjoyed that article, and I actually READ THE WHOLE THING! Scary, I know....but it was well worth it! Thanks!

Daniel Santos
If it is to be, it is up to me.
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