Here’s what it took to write a book and release a DVD. Would you release your material for the same result?
When I was 7, I witnessed a card trick that changed my life. I saw this simple trick and that inspired me to learn more about magic. I started going to a local magic shop to buy tricks. My family was very poor so it was up to me to save up the money to buy a new effect. I mowed lawns and did chores around the house for an allowance. I did this for years and even started performing at birthday parties to make more money. The more money I had, the more magic I could have.
I realized that books and VHS tapes yielded more effects than just buying a single magic prop. I learned as many tricks and sleights as I could to keep getting better and better. But I still wanted more. When I was 20, I found a mentor, Darwin Ortiz. I was honored to have one of the world’s best teach me. However, I had a similar problem. I could barely afford the lessons and the cost it took to travel 7 hours (one way) to Washington D.C.. I could only afford to travel for sessions about 2 or 3 times a year. To save money, I’d drive down and back the same day to avoid paying for a hotel. I studied and practiced hard for the next 10 years to gain as much information as possible. I studied to learn the effects, sleights, and the theory. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my mentor.
I began creating my own material. After another 2 or 3 years of creating, performing, and refining these new effects. I thought I’d take a shot at writing a book. But I didn’t know how to write. I realized that I was good at creating and performing, but I had almost no knowledge of how to teach or write a book. I stopped everything and bought as many books as I could on writing. For at least 3 years, I read and studied and applied those concepts to the work I had attempted to write years earlier. Slowly but surely, I began to see progress.
Another few years went by and the book was starting to take shape. I realized that I needed photographs and video footage to help sell and promote the book. However, these weren’t cheap. The video shoot was going to cost me around $5,000 after editing and hiring a cast and crew and paying a venue. This put everything on hold again. I had to do gigs to raise the money. Eventually, I raised the money and did a full photo and video shoot of all the material.
I reached out to Vanishing Inc. and we agreed to publish the book along with a sample DVD. A few years later, I decided to release the DVD set. I again had to save up the money to film the explanations and pay for the DVD production and duplication. In the end, everything took over a decade to complete and I had to finance everything myself. I achieved my goal, but with an unforeseen result: within three days, some scumbag thief in China was selling pirated copies of my life’s work for $2.99.
If you’re one of those people that buys pirated material, please stop. Every time you do, you’re killing our industry and you’re supporting people that had nothing to do with the artist’s vision. You’re as bad as they are. Everything I’ve ever released is for sale somewhere online for pennies. (This is true of almost every artist that has released any material through a reputable dealer.) My second book Game Changer was listed on the China knockoff websites within 24 hours of the release. Why should those companies see a profit for my lifetime of hard work?
Support the creators in the business by buying from reputable magic companies. Otherwise we’re going to get to a place where artists feel that it’s not worth it to release anything anymore. Would you write a book if most of the profits went to someone else? I didn’t think so. And finally, if you ever see a pirated copy of someones work, please contact the creator with the information so they can take care of it.