It is my suspicion that many of the thousands of visitors who pass across these pages each month are in the category of amateur magicians. By which I mean they have a passion for magic and may be involved in a local club, or show things to their mates down the pub, but are probably not performing regularly for money. But how do you make the transition from happy amateur to well-paid professional. Where do you even begin the process? It is questions like this which Jamie D Grant seeks to answer in his book The Approach.
Unlike most of our reviews, The Approach isn’t brand new – it was published last year – but as I have written elsewhere I feel that it deserves a wider audience since it is such a unique and practical book. It styles itself “a complete guide to becoming a working magician” and it fulfils that brief very well.
The book is divided into 102 chapters – but don’t think chapters in a novel – think entries on a blog – since most are only a couple of pages long. It is incredibly practical covering nitty-gritty details from what tricks to use, how to structure a set, what to wear, what to charge (some real wisdom here), how to prepare, how to get gigs, how to respond to enquiries, how to ‘work the room’ – the list could go on and on. It includes questions that you feel too obvious that you could never ask anyone, and others that I would never have thought about – until you hit them yourself – for example there is a chapter on one-handed spectators!
Much of the information is anecdotal – in other words – you’re learning from Jamie’s mistakes (and successes). The book is also interactive – in the sense that there are practical exercises for you to fill out – which makes sure you are engaging with the material and taking it on board.
There is so much I liked about this book. But for balance I need to record a couple of downs. I may be too shy and retiring and British (actually, I’m not that shy and retiring!) – but some of the ideas and techniques feel that they fit Jamie’s incredibly positive personality, but might not fit everyone’s. That may just be the reality of needing to sell yourself – but you will have to evaluate this to see what it looks like for your particular personality. And on a similar note, bear in mind he is writing from a Canadian context. Whilst we share much cultural heritage with Canada, some things may not transpose directly.
That being said, these are in no way deal breakers – if you are worth your salt you are always going to evaluate this kind of content in the light of your own personality and context. So I have no hesitation in unreservedly recommending this book. Jamie seems to have a knack for putting out quality magic items (see our review of his Industrial Revelation for more evidence of this).
You can get your copy direct from Jamie (who kindly supplied my review copy) for $75 complete with free shipping (as I write).
If you’d prefer to buy from the UK, then you can buy it from Merchant of Magic.