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William Draven
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Title: Entertainer’s Handbook
Author: Mike Stilwell
Publicist: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Retail Price: $15.95 USD
Reading Difficulty:
Notes: Over 100 pages
• Paperback

Writing a book about getting gigs as a working magician is something I know a lot about personally. With a marketing and sales background I know what to say and how to say it to get the sale closed. Whether that is selling a high end car or my own act, it’s all the same at the end of the day. When it comes to marketing and sales for magicians reference materials aren’t hard to come by either. There’s a hundred books written on the subject (including my own PDF on getting gigs and keeping clients) so when this book hit my desk I took to doing this review as a personal interest.

There are certain books that are must owns if you’re going to become a magician. Everyone should own a copy of Tarbell, Mark Wilsons Course in Magic, and Card College, Strong Magic, Scripting Magic, Maximum Entertainment with strong considerations made to Expert at the Card Table, 13 Steps to Mentalism, Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic, Royal Road to Card Magic for more specialized focus on certain aspects of magic. But these are all excellent resource guides for learning magic and none of them teach you how to become a magician. Doing tricks for people in an entertaining fashion is only half the show after all because unless you know how to get a gig in the first place all that knowledge of what to do once you’re there is wasted.

Fortunately the field of reference books that you should own on getting gigs is relatively small. My own narcissistic tendencies to promote my own material aside I’d really only recommend “The Approach” by Jamie D. Grant as the definitive go to for this subject. That all changed after I read The Entertainers Handbook. Author and magician Mike Stilwell has somehow managed to distill over 40 years of experience as a working magician into a solid tome of how to instructions that should be one of the first books you own and read after you’ve decided to do magic for profit (right next to Jamie’s and mine!).

Mike covers everything, and I mean everything, that a magician starting fresh in the world of professional work needs to think about. The subjects in the book take in-depth looks at personal subjects like finding your talent, stage names, hygiene, and stage fright, to more business like aspects like business cards, pricing, hecklers, and marketing. I particularly found his chapter on ethics and behavior to be an interesting consideration because almost no one really talks about those subjects these days but nothing can kill a career faster than poor ethics.

The book is written in an easy to understand language. Mike comes from years of experience and that experience shows through. He’s not suggesting you do something that isn’t tested and proven. In fact if anything the advice he gives, if followed like a road map, should have you making money as a performing magician in no time. Even the consummate pro with years of experience working the paid to perform scene could stand to benefit from reading his book. I really liked his real world experience with needing a passport- something that has inspired me to get off my own rear and get one for myself.

This book doesn’t teach you a single trick to do with magic. So if you’re looking for the next cool card trick, or juggling move this isn’t the book for you. If you’re not really interested in learning how to make money doing magic this book won’t help you either. There’s nothing wrong with collecting magic, or just performing it as a hobby for friends at parties on the weekend don’t get me wrong. If that’s all you are interested in then there’s nothing you’ll find useful here in this book. However if you have even the slightest interest or curiosity in learning how you can take your past time, hobby, or art and make money doing it, then you owe it to yourself to read the Entertainer’s Handbook. If there was a school for magic this would be required reading for any year one student. If you teach magic professionally then you need to make sure all of your students own a copy and you review it with them if they are interested in working professionally. You’d be doing them a disservice not to.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Readability and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 9
A book that’s less than $20 bucks and it’s full of awesome useful information that could change someone’s life forever? Sign me up.

Teaching Quality: 9
Mike’s real world approach makes this not only easy to learn from but highly practical.

Readability: 9
Read through it once, then keep reading it over and over at least once a year. You can’t go wrong with this book.

Over All Quality: 9
Who needs this book? Everyone that’s who! Teachers, students, anyone who wants to learn how to get paid for doing their magic. Hell I may even buy a second copy so I have one to loan out to my friends without worry about losing the one I intend to keep on my book shelf.
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