Ian Frisch Talks Magic and Publishing

Professional Writing ’09 graduate Ian Frisch recently landed a book deal for his nonfiction novel about the underground world of magic. He will be visiting Champlain for a Q&A from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on October 26 in CCM 221 to discuss his book and the publishing process.


“In 2015, I was researching for potential articles,” said Frisch. “I always thought magic was cool, and so that summer I had watched a documentary on Rickie J. I was seeing all this stuff about magic, and younger guys in the periphery of the mainstream, so I started doing research.”


Frisch found magician Chris Ramsey through YouTube and Instagram. His channel featured magic videos, but according to Frisch, Ramsey “didn’t look like a magician” with a wand and a hat. After the two met and talked, however, Frisch found himself sucked into the underground world of magic. His book focuses on that hidden world and the people he met, following Frisch in a first-person perspective as he ventures around with young magicians.


“The best mindset is to understand amazing stories are out there all the time,” said Frisch. “I’m someone who’s dedicated to finding a story to be made into a book.”


But it isn’t that simple. According to Frisch, nonfiction books are typically sold via a proposal of around 20,000 words (or 75 pages) that consists of four main parts: the overview (characters, storyline, scope), the marketing aspect (why would it sell?), chapter summaries (what happens in each one), and a few sample chapters. The author’s agent then takes the proposal and contacts editors/imprints who read the proposal. If they’re interested, they’ll set up a meeting.


Frisch’s proposal took him around nine months to finalize. Why? Because, he says, you only get one chance.


“You don’t send out a proposal, work on it, then do it again. It’s a one-shot deal,” he said. “It’s all about the idea. You have to be a good writer, but you can’t sell a book without a good idea. Do you have strong characters? Good narrative? Is there tension? These make books viable in the market.”


Dey Street Books picked up Frisch’s manuscript, a topic he’ll discuss further during his Q&A.


“Champlain was always the foundation for my writing career, the craft, always being curious,” said Frisch. “As time went on, that kind of real world experience helps refine those skills. Nothing is really out of reach.”