Writing an entry level book?

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Postby Guest » 08/27/04 04:48 PM

Since there is every now and then a rather heated discussions on the works of ellusionist, Ammar, Daryl etc. I was hoping to learn some basic rules.

If I were to write an entry level book (or to make a video for that matter) which would introduce the basic sleights in card magic and some tricks to go with them a la Royal Road or Card College in my native language could I do it? Meaning, could I just take the sleights that I have learned from several sources and type them plus illustrate them to make a book?

I understand that toinclude tricks I would need to gain permission from the creators but what about sleights?
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Postby Bill Mullins » 08/27/04 09:08 PM

No matter what opinion someone gives here, someone else will find it wrong. That is partly because people are argumentative, but also partly because the ethics of the situation you discuss are not standardized or generally accepted throughout the magic community.

I would think that having your own personal set of ethics with which you are totally comfortable, is just as much a requirement for writing an introductory book as is an extensive knowledge of sleights and tricks.
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Postby Guest » 08/27/04 11:41 PM

To me, asking that question on this forum is a decent way to start. Even though there is a miriad of answers, separate the wheat from the chaff.

If you asked me personally, this is how I'd start trying to do what I think you want to do...

Give credit where credit is due. If unsure, take the time to find out. The information is out there, and homework definitely needs to be done. If unsuccessful, try harder.

Offer compensation for any and all proprietary material...or don't use it at all. And offer said compensation directly to the creator. Avoid any "middle man" at all costs.

Make the absolute level-best effort to make the book timeless...by not sacrificing integrity for marketability.

Read the posts on the "Piracy" topic. Read them again. Now read them again. As Bill Mullins said, "the ethics are not standardized." This is the problem...standardization of ethics. And so far, no effective solution for this HUGE issue is in sight.

My gut really tells me that it only starts here; that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I make no pretense of knowing how to publish correctly, ethically, or in any manner that will please all the people all the time. I only offer my observations as a perspective in hopes of helping every one of the readers think this one out. My gut positivly tells me that it can be done. Center...Focus...Execute.

Best wishes to you, Mr. Ketonen. You have a lot of support here.

P. Differ
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Postby Jacky Kahan » 08/29/04 01:51 PM

I like this topic!
Hope this thread will give lot of answers...

Bill Mullins said:
because the ethics of the situation you discuss are not standardized or generally accepted throughout the magic community.
Very interesting! a good starting point i would say...would be to have a list of standard moves..and/or routines that we would concider as "public domain" ...
The question is : who is the higher authority to approve that ? :confused:
Where do we start?

cheers

Jacky
www.magicbooks.be
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Postby Bill Palmer » 08/30/04 11:40 AM

If you are going to do a video, use the Michael Ammar videos as a model. Don't translate them exactly, just use them as a basis. Figure out what is necessary on those videos, pull out the best, and if the creators of the sleights/tricks are still living, ask permission from them. Chances are, you will get it.

If the publishers of the sleights/tricks are still around, do the same thing. You will, in all likelihood, be fulfilling all ethical and legal requirements.

The main things are to get permission wherever possible, and give credit wherever it is due. We tried to do that in the Punx books, and it seemed to work out just fine. Obviously there are some things you won't need to do that for -- the classic force, the classic pass, etc. I, for one, think you have a great idea.

Good luck in your project.
Bill Palmer, MIMC
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/30/04 12:21 PM

Originally posted by Pekka Ketonen:
...introduce the basic sleights in card magic and some tricks to go with them a la Royal Road or Card College in my native language ...
The guy who wrote Royal Road may be gone, and most of the folks who contributed to Royal Road and Expert Card Technique might also be gone... so it is difficult to seek proper permissions and give proper respect to those whose works you seek to discuss.

The guy who wrote the Card College books is still with us and may have some issues with you translating his work and selling it. He might be open to some offer and perhaps even make arrangements to help with the videos if you are going that way.

However, just what basics are YOURS to offer? Alex Elmsley is still with us, and much work on the classic pass is around because folks like Geoff Latta spent many years working on the thing. The thing we call Marlo's TILT is a result of a few people's work and of them, Ken Krenzel and Howie Schwarzman are still around. If you want to seek out proper permissions on material, start with those named in the works, and it's safer to presume the material is 'borrowed' unless properly cited. Seek out folks like Paul Chosse, Wesley James, Richard Hatch and Bill Palmer for proper historical citations.

Good thing you are not doing a coin book. Though Milt Kort and Jimmy Buffalo and J. B. Bobo are gone, folks like Al Schneider, David Roth, Harvey Rosenthal, Sol Stone, Geoff Latta, David Neighbors ... are with us and still developing material. The good side of this is they are approachable and also concerned with the history of the moves and magic.

Just what is public domain in magic? The material in Discoverie of Witchcraft, in its non technical descriptions? How about the contents of the Robert-Houdin book? or the Professor Hoffmann books? Not sure where one could draw the lines between the basic descriptions and the modern technical re-workings.

Then again... perhaps it is better to learn from the tomes. There is much to be gained in filling in details from sparse descriptions. Perhaps we could do with a video discussing the material in the Robert-Houdin Secrets of Conjuring book.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Guest » 08/30/04 03:43 PM

Thank you all for replying.

This project is not even a project yet, more of a dream and I actually wish that someone, more prominent magician, would do that instead of me. However, I might be having a part in the process so i tought I would ask.

The idea started since a new magic book for laymen was published in my home country (with a population of 5 million you can guess how many magic books are published) and someone called for more basic magic books.

I was thinking of a content of some double lifts, a couple of controls and forces, palming or two etc. Maybe a pass just to let readers know how hard will it get.

The feel of the text would be that if one would actually learn 80% of the material taught s/he should start getting more books and truly start practicing. So kind of a slimmer version of Royal Road. A books that could be found in the library and would have a proper reference list and recommend books list at the back.

And therein lies the reason for being extra careful with ethics. How can one try to teach the elementary methods for emerging hobbyist if the content of the book is less that ethical?

In no way was I considering merely translating anyones words and put them out. However, that said, Giobbi has done such a wonderful job with his Card College series that it would be hard for anyone to produce an elementary level book without being compared to and influenced by them.

But I think this discussion has a higher call. We, the magicians, are often in our arms calling for ethics but can we set down some rules? How could one follow the norms if they are not set? For this project I am seriously considering if I am even good enough as a magician to produce such a book (referring to Jonatahans post on public domain, should I have a right to benefit from this domain when I have not contributed anything to any domain?). Should I take my idea and give it to someone who deserves to be remembered? There are a lot of questions to be answered... and it's getting late.

Thank you all and let's try to define some rules. Maybe we come up something that all future wauthors will read.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/04 03:57 PM

You might want to consider contacting the publishers of some of the better entry-level magic books in English, and offer to translate them into your language. The material would then already be credited and footnoted, and all you would have to focus on is getting the translation right. If the market is there for such a translated book, it would be less of a risk for the publisher to go this route. If not, there's probably not much of a market for any brand-new entry-level books, either.

Robert V Frazier
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Postby Guest » 08/30/04 04:04 PM

You are right, there is not a much of a market for the book. Mainly libraries. But it would still be nice to make it as a domestic product with as many tricks as possible coming from the domestic magicians (and there are some excellent ones in Finland). And there are other issues that require a very domestic viewpoint, such as the magical history and other aspects that should be included in order to make the reader not only capable of fooling his/her friends but become a magician.
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Postby Guest » 08/30/04 08:06 PM

Pekka Ketonen writes,

Thank you all and let's try to define some rules. Maybe we come up something that all future wauthors will read.
Are you asking for standardized ethics? How are they enforced?

Throw in some congressional legislation written and structured to protect creators' original presentations, methods, gimmicks, etc...and you may just get there...sounds like an act of Congress would be needed...

I sense a shift in the force...somehow...

P. Differ
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Postby Guest » 08/31/04 12:47 AM

With that comment you just gave your right to complain when someone is ripping-off someone.

It is so easy to just complain and raise a storm but when it comes to actually do something most people are even complaining about that.

There will never be a legislation on magic publications per se. And since the academia will always need the right to refer to other publications there will probably never be any laws prohibiting that. Thus, making the rules can only be a self regulated activity where the consumers and publishers are declined to purchase unethical creations.

Ethics do not require laws. Social norma, community norms etc. can be created without any written laws or legal power. Unfortunately many modern people have forgotten that. It seems that in today's world anything that is not explicitly forbidden is seen as acceptable and, dare I say, even ethical.

This thread that I started was just an opening to seek our own definitions on ethical creating in our community. With the help of the internet, while there are many negative aspects, the good thing is that we can enforce any norms more easily. A shade creator or distributor can be quickly names in these forums and the consumers can decide their own actions based on that.

Pekka

P.S. If this sounds anyway insulting I apologize. It is not meant that way but I had a hard time constructing the post.
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Postby Guest » 08/31/04 10:43 AM

I am by no means insulted. Please don't apologize. In fact, I am excited by the comments and directions this topic could take.

After reading the topic "Piracy" I am constantly reminded by Henry Ford's quote, "Fix the problem, not the blame." In my experience, adequate solutions to complex problems often are difficult to find, let alone effect. They often require a LOT of adjusting as problems tend to mutate and are often deeper and more firmly entrenched then we may at first realize.

And every time I did read the "Piracy" topic, I asked myself, "What's the solution?"

That's why I mention legislation designed to protect the creators. When you asked your question on the ethics of writing a book in your language, it reminded me immediately of the "Piracy" topic.

I may have oversimplified, but it seemed to me that legislation is what is needed to hit the ethics (or lack of) issue in the same stroke as the issue that deals with piracy. One fell swoop, as is said. Now I must think about your arguement, as it is too valid.

I hope others will join to develop this "solution aspect". Maybe it belongs under its own subject...

And, no matter what, I really like the idea of you writing a book in your own language. Whether you decide to translate an existing book into your native tongue, or decide to write your own work, I wish you the most success.

P. Differ
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Postby Jacky Kahan » 09/07/04 02:59 PM

Very very interesting topic.
Thanks!

I do have a question :

Regarding the original question :

gain permission from the creators but what about sleights?
Where do we start?
I've started www.magicbooks.be with a few purposes, first to have a search tool for magic books. Secondly and more importantly to have a place where we could place the records straight regarding references. So, if you want you could help us out... the more we are the better.

I love books, and magic books, manuscripts, notes are the only 'recordings' of history, sleights, routines and so on (not talking about video, dvd's).
So i figured that if we have a list of all the books, and all the sleights, all the routines, subtleties etc. in one list, that would be a good place to start...

I know it is a lot of work... but with a little help of a LOT of people... we could have a good basis to start quite quickly....

that's my thought...
jacky
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/07/04 03:19 PM

Originally posted by Jacky Kahan:
... books, and magic books, manuscripts, notes are the only 'recordings' of history, sleights, routines and so on ...a list of all the books, and all the sleights, all the routines, subtleties etc. in one list, that would be a good place to start...
How does this sit with historians?

Do we want the "Reverse Pass" properly attributed to Hofzinser, and "Expert at the Card Table" attributed to "currently unknown" ?

Also, there seems to be some deeply ingrained resistance around here to reading Scot's book Discoverie of Witchcraft. This is an easy mark for discussing and cataloging items. And it's public domain so the effort would not step on anyone's toes. That is if there is going to be an honest effort.

Perhaps a student of Alex Elmsley might comb through his published works and catalog the ideas, stories, sleights and ... the citations to earlier works. Similarly there are others of his generation who may have students and who may choose to document their works.

This can be accompanied by video clips.

And now I ask you the big loaded questions

1) Who is going to offer what in return for this huge efforts?

2) How do you feel about this database going public?

On a more positive note, we have folks like CRoat and DBehr in our community who are cataloging what they can as they can. Perhaps they have some cogent input on this subject.

We seem to be approaching the notion of secrets as currency from a different tact this time around. The key question in this round is: Who grants access to what items and how is this reviewed?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Jacky Kahan » 02/04/05 05:11 PM

What a pitty this topic stopped ... let's put back some live to this great topic...

J. Townsend had a great last post and wrote:

Do we want the "Reverse Pass" properly attributed to Hofzinser, and "Expert at the Card Table" attributed to "currently unknown" ?
I think that with help of (knowledgable)magicians worldwide we "could" properly attribute origins. Whoever has different sources, 'just' needs to point it out, and in time we'l get back to original sources....

) Who is going to offer what in return for this huge efforts?
We've started www.magicbooks.be, with the effort of lots of magicians worldwide we references almost 2000 books, and it's growing everyday....

2) How do you feel about this database going public?
That's one of the reasons why on www.magicbooks.be you can only find Table of contents and no explainations. But it's starting to be a great tool to search for references

Who grants access to what items and how is this reviewed?
That's why www.magicbooks.be is in the form of a Forum. If some records are wrong or have bad references, any one can post a reply to set the records straight, it's a collective living project. Thanks to the help of people like Philippe Billot we have updated quite some information.

Hope this will revive the subject.

Jacky
www.magicbooks.be
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