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Mary Mowder
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Thank you pickin_grinnin,

(Is that a Hee Haw reference?)

You've really helped save me some writing and many Librarians extra reading.

I've noticed a big difference in how far before summer the Libraries book their shows.

In my area there is @ a 4 month difference which makes booking locally first impossible. By the time my system is booking it is all over in many of the surrounding counties.

How long a set up is generally acceptable among Librarians?

Mary Mowder
pickin_grinnin
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>I lost two libraries because I won't work outside.

I won't work outside anymore, either. I turn down outside storytelling gigs now. It's just too difficult with the highly unpredictable Texas weather.

One thing I forgot to mention:

Most city or county public libraries work on an invoice system, so they can't often pay the performer that day. In my town the pay goes out the following week. There have been cases where I knew the performer really needed the money then, so I paid him/her out of my pocket and then had the city reimburse me, but not all librarians have that option. In general, it's best to get your invoice to the library ahead of time so that they can get it turned in as quickly as possible. One magician that I hire each year gives me his invoice as soon as we book the show, even if it's 6 months ahead of time.
jay leslie
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Bizinga. What state are you in and how many other magicians are doing those shows?
I'm in So Cal and there are 12 to 16 magicians who get tables at the showcases. 15 years ago I was doing 30 a season and there were 4 other magicians. Now the pie is divided and I'm getting 15 on average.

In total there are 60ish performers that get tables (depending on the county) and 135 & 80 libraries in each county near me. So if they have 8 shows in the season that's 6 times 215 libraries (average in each counties). 1290 shows divided by 110 performers, that comes to 11 shows on average.

Some performers always will get more and others less. other factors include how new you are and if you have the lowest rate. A new performer with the lowest rate will book 30 libraries - no matter how good or bad that are.
(after they do several and realise that they spent half a day of time and 20 in gas, they wise-up and either quit or charge the going rates)

So what are your dynamics there? How many libraries, how far do you travel and what's the competition?

Thank you very much for your time.
pickin_grinnin
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>I've noticed a big difference in how far
>before summer the Libraries book their shows.

I try to book for Summer Reading around December or January. In my area, if you wait too much longer than that the good performers get booked up by everyone else. I have one performer who we have visit every year, so we book her for the following year as soon as she finishes her show.

I have noticed that there are some libraries that make a big mistake by waiting until a few months before summer to start booking summer acts, then act surprised when they have limited choices. I don't know why they do that.


>How long a set up is generally
>acceptable among Librarians?

It varies from library to library, and is often dependent on the performing space they have available. We have a big room that is solely for meetings and performances and can be locked, so I have some performers who come in the night before and get everything set up ahead of time. I have had some who came in two or three hours ahead of time, and some who came in 10 minutes before the beginning of the show. I work hard to be adaptable to the needs of the performer, since I know what it's like to be on that side of things. In some libraries, though, the performing space might be in use before the show starts. In my experience, that tends to be the real limiting factor when it comes to setup.

One of my favorite magicians in the area has a really cool modular rolling cart system that allows him to completely set up for a show within 10 minutes. He usually shows up before that, but I have seen him completely set up in 5 minutes, when necessary. He's very good at talking to the kids while he sets up, so the setup itself is almost a pre-show.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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One large system here books January of the summer year.
Another books in August of the previous yeast.

I learned the old fashion way. I lost out on 1-29 bookings by neglecting to meet their deadline.

Harris
Reader and righter
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
Starrpower
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I have been getting calls since November. I am almost booked up already. I am turning libraries away, and getting responses like, "I sure hope we can get you next year!"
pickin_grinnin
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Mary - Yep, it IS a Hee-Haw reference. I love that show.

Starrpower - That's a good problem to have!
charliecheckers
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Great topic - the only thing I found to be different that the OP experience, is that when I first started pursuing this market I took the time to visit a ton of libraries- just on a walk in. I just introduced myself and left them a postcard sized professional photograph with my website. I found nearly all librarians to be receptive and it left a lasting impression.

These clients talk amongst themselves more than any other I can think of, so this alone will probably make you or brake you.

Themes play very well for Summer Reading Programs, but the rest of the year a standard show does fine.

Sometimes branches with low budgets are assisted by the main library's budget.
Bazinga
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Jay,

I'm in a very rural part of PA. My last mailing, which was for two seasons ago, was to 223 libraries within 250 miles from my home. The first year I mailed I got 24 libraries. I got a few more each year and the last 5 or 6 years I did between 71 and 74.

I really don't know how many other magicians cover that area. I do know most of my "competition" was from out of state. And I don't recall being "up against" the same one more than 3 times.

I stopped doing the summer reading shows for the last two seasons because of my health. It was just too much travel and work for the energy I have now. I carried 2 jetsets, a Lefler table, two side tables, a guitar, amp, and a footlocker.

I never went to a library conference, although I had one librarian take my materials and speak for me at a regional conference. It did a lot of good and I gave her a free show afterward. She didn't know I was going to do that so that speaks to how well she thought of me. I ain't bragging there just want to show how well word of mouth can do.

I know my rates were higher than at least half of the other choices the libraries had. My home county librarian told me she had a guy willing to come from almost 200 miles away for 50 bucks less than I wanted. She was another champion for me so I matched to price. She's done so much for me that I always kept her rate at the level of any previous raises.

I did a lot of extra things to be worth that price, such as sending CDs to their local radio stations with a prerecorded PSA, sending press kits to their local papers, (HINT: The story slant was not about me.) and working in a lot more than just the theme and a plug to use the library. I was a lot of work but in those 3 months I made (that is grossed) as much as the rest of the year combined. The travel expenses for me can take a good piece of the fee.

The thing about the competition is that we are not just competing against other magicians. We are competing against all kinds of entertainers, schoolteachers with the summer free, other speakers such as zoos, local theater groups, and even high school or college students willing to present for free.

Most of the libraries I worked for had a program every week. Many of them would be those freebies. It was up to me to show them that I could be their one big special show worth many times more than any other activity they had that summer. It didn't work all the time of course but I did have 1 or 2 tell me that my price was 1/2 of their total budget; and they hired me more than once. Again, I don't mean to brag, but the thing is to do a good job, do more than they expect, and they will reward you with loyalty.

My philosophy in working with librarians is to pretend I'm working for my little sister (she's 52) and everyone is watching how SHE does, not me.

It seems like you're in a tough spot there Jay; lots of competition in the same price bracket as you for about the same number of libraries that I mail to. Then there are those low-priced alternatives. I don't know what it's like in Southern CA as far as population density, but how far can you travel to maybe get double or triple the amount of libraries?

I've seen your website and I think you have a bigger show than I do. I have a chair suspension but don't use it any more. With your straight jacket and the levitation (I can't remember what it's called) can you play up the size of your show versus the other guys? Or if you can work that into the theme and the other guys are doing a straight jacket, can you build up your uniqueness over the other guys?

Just some thoughts,
Bazinga!
charliecheckers
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Bazinga wrote:
Quote:
I did a lot of extra things to be worth that price,

I think this is the key if you are trying to land these gigs. Mainly, they are looking for you to be a draw, so unless you are very well established and bring your own fan base, you need to be creative to increase your potential as a draw for the library.
pickin_grinnin
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>We are competing against all kinds of entertainers,
>schoolteachers with the summer free, other speakers
>such as zoos, local theater groups, and even high school
>or college students willing to present for free.

That's very true.

I have found that there is something of a hierarchy of interest among my patrons when it comes to different types of performances. The absolute biggest draw, bar none, is animal acts. I can easily draw two or three times the attendance with an animal act than any other. I once had 600 people show up for a trained monkey show, and we had to turn about half of them away. It wasn't a very large library - our biggest attendance ever for a children's show before that was 350 people.

Storytellers are on the bottom rung when it comes to the crowds they can draw. There are tons of them out there, and they aren't as big a draw as other acts, no matter how good they are. I know a lot of extremely good professional storytellers, but I don't hire more than a couple each year because storytellers aren't a huge draw in this area. Though I am an experienced storyteller, I would hate to make my full-time living that way, at least in this area.

Everything else falls somewhere in-between. The shows that tend to do the best are the ones with the most exciting visual components: magic, juggling, circus arts, etc. In my area competent magicians who are good with kids are not as plentiful as many other types of acts, so I pay very close attention to any new ones I run across. That's probably not the case everywhere, but knowing how much competition you have in your area - and what TYPE of competition - can be very beneficial. Go to their shows, if you can. At the very least you should find out what types of shows and trick the other folks do, and then come up with something different. When advertising your show to librarians, always make sure to point out the thing that makes you different than everybody else. It can really make a difference.

I once met a children's magician in my area who did levitations during his children's shows. I was very eager to book him, but unfortunately I couldn't afford him. He wanted around $600 for a 45 minute show - I could have managed $400, given how different his show was, but I just couldn't do $600. I don't blame him for the price - it looked like his show was worth it. I just bring that up to illustrate that I would have hired him in an instant if I could because he included something that the other magicians (who perform in libraries in my area) didn't offer.
pickin_grinnin
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When it comes to travel costs, some of the performers I have hired who live several hours away try to set up bundles - multiple shows at different libraries all within a two or three day period. Since Texas is a very large state, I have taken part in those deals a number of times over the years. Usually it goes like this: when talking to a performer, they tell me that they will drop the travel cost by a certain percent if I can help them find two more libraries in my area who will hire them for the same day or the following one. I send an email to the other area libraries to see if anyone wants to get in on it. Usually a couple are interested, particularly those who couldn't afford to pay the full travel fees in the first place. We get things set up with the performer and go from there. I always make sure to let the community of librarians in the area know if the performer does a good job, too.

Another thing we do is ask performers that interest us for a list of the times that they are already booked for shows in our area, then negotiate for lower travel fees if we can book them during their "down" time on the trip. They end up coming out ahead and not wasting as much time sitting in a hotel room, and that little extra we saved helps us to book more performers in the future.
Bazinga
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Quote:
On 2014-02-20 22:48, charliecheckers wrote:
Bazinga wrote:
Quote:
I did a lot of extra things to be worth that price,

I think this is the key if you are trying to land these gigs. Mainly, they are looking for you to be a draw, so unless you are very well established and bring your own fan base, you need to be creative to increase your potential as a draw for the library.

That's true Charlie. But not just for inexperienced newcomers. In my case, doing this for over 40 years, being known and drawing a crowd isn't an issue. But when my price is sometimes 3 to 5 times that of others, I need to help the librarian justify to the board that expense. "A well known draw" is not always going to be enough of an explination. I need to show them how much I care about them and what they are trying to do.

The more we make it about them, the more we'll make.
Dynamike
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Bazinga, I never knew you had so much experience. You should write a book for all you know.
Dynamike
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The new smilies at the bottom of the page startled me. Smile
Bazinga
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Thanks Mike. I did start writing about things I've done, mostly so my young cousins, nieces and nephews will have some funny things to remember crazy old Uncle Bazinga! and his goofy toys. My business and marketing skills are not really noteworthy enough to add another book to the many that already cover the subject so well. I enjoy swapping ideas here and reading what other are doing.

I don't see any new smilies.
jay leslie
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Bazinga

Funny, the House Of Enchantment and myself were originally from western PA. I'm sure you've got something from Jim Swoger at some time.

I have 11 different shows and 28 illusions that are rotated in and out yearly. Some shows are on the stage, some are close up and many are Stand Up by myself. I don't perform a suspension at a library or the jacket escape. It's all sleight of hand, comedy and audience participation.

So the old saying seems to be true " If you want to be a successful magician you don't go where there are a lot of other magicians but you go where there are none"

Maybe I should have stayed in PA.
Dynamike
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Quote:
On 2014-02-21 01:02, Bazinga wrote:


I don't see any new smilies.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......rum=50&2
Bazinga
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Jay,

You know, I never made the connection before. Sorry. I used to have a "Skeleton in the Closet" from the Pittsbugh shop. I wish I had it now. I have a "Spider Beside Her." I'm pretty sure I got it after you bought the shop. That's a good one.

I forgot to mention before that I cover pretty much all of PA from Lancaster to the Ohio border and a few miles into Maryland and a few into New York. But I don't go to Pittsbugh city. I've worked in Zelienople, Rochester, Ambridge, and Beaver, and I play some music festivals in Brady's Run, and Beaver Creek Park (I think it's called.)

Small world, eh?
Anatole
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I have worked public and school library shows off and on from the 1970's to the 2000's. Part of my spiel was to let the kids know that library books are what helped me to become a magician. I tell them that magic books are in the 793.8 section, and I use "793.8" as the magic words to make the magic happen. The kids repeat the magic number with me.

I explain to the kids that some of the tricks they're going to see are tricks that I learned from a book and some are tricks that I bought at a magic store and some are tricks that I invented myself. The librarians put up a display a few weeks in advance announcing my impending performance. I provide brochures and photos for the display.

I also mention during the show that I checked out a lot of books on drawing from the library and the skills I learned from those books helped me to become an illustrator of several magic books for professional magicians. One of the tricks that I perform (which helped me to win 3rd place in close-up at an IBM convention in the 70's) was one I invented that was based on a book on paperfolding that I had checked out from the library.

I tie some library skills into the show--like doing a prediction of dictionary guide words on a "freely" selected page in a children's picture dictionary. I modified a Magic Coloring Book (cover as well as inside pages) so that it could be shown to be a Universal Book--a book that can be shown to have blank pages and magically turned into "any" book. On the back of the book I have a faux keypad with large numbered keys (and an "Enter" and a "Cancel" key) that I use to type in either a Dewey Decimal Number (for very young kids) or an ISBN (International Standard Book Number--for older kids and adults) that magically converts the blank book into either a non-fiction book (e.g. a picture book about dinosaurs) or a storybook from the Easy book section (e.g. a "Curious George" book by H.A. Rey). (I cut and pasted pages from paperback children's books I bought.)

I also had a Harbin Packaway Table (_The Table Book_, pages 30-31) built into a large hollow book. I told the kids, "Most books have a Table of Contents. But the contents of this book is--A TABLE!" I opened the book and the legs snapped open. Of course, I had a roll-on table in addition to the book table. But the Harbin table was sturdy enough to hold silks as I produced them, a deck of cards, etc.

I genuinely feel that I would not be a magician or magic book illustrator today if it hadn't been for books that taught me the skills I needed to become a magician. When I was in grade school I learned some great tricks from the Joseph Leeming books. When I was in high school I learned card flourishes from Henry Hay's _The Amateur Magician's Handbook_, Cut-and-Restored Rope from _Scarne's Magic Tricks_ etc. My linking ring routine is largely out of the Hay book. My original Mental Flip-Flop routine seen here:
http://tinyurl.com/kafo5yy
was inspired by instructions I found for making a Jacob's Ladder in the book _How to Make Things Out of Paper_ by Walter Sperling that I found in the public library. (The sound in the video was removed to facilitate faster page loading.)

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
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