Professional Tarot: The Business of Reading, Consulting and Teaching
Subtitled 'The Business of Reading, Consulting and Teaching', this is a manual full of help and practical advice for anyone intending to enter the world of professional Tarot reading.
By Christine Jette
Book - Published by Llewellyn
Review by Tom LeBlanc, CTC
I was once advised that the difference between a decent reader and a successful reader was his or her business savvy. While I’m quite sure that the definition of 'successful' is subject to individual interpretation, many of us are at least curious about reading professionally. While there is certainly no lack of resources open to those who wish to learn how to read the cards, there is precious little information available to the reader who wishes use their skills professionally. Too often, the highly skilled reader sallies forth into the world of professional reading and either develops his or her business skills the hard way, or flounders and retreats—often vowing never to return.
Thankfully, this lacuna has been recently filled by Christine Jette in her recent book, 'Professional Tarot: The Business of Reading, Consulting and Teaching'. In just 6 chapters, an epilogue and three well-conceived appendices (215 pages altogether), Jette provides a concise (though admittedly not exhaustive) overview that will certainly enable the reader to take his or her skills to market with confidence.
Jette is by no means a newcomer to this area. An experienced professional reader and Nurse, her counseling approach to Tarot shines through not only in this book, but also in her previous works 'Tarot for the Healing Heart', 'Tarot for all Seasons', and 'Tarot Shadow Work'. As an experienced teacher and writer, her instructive writing style is concise, well structured, and laced with an infectious sense of humor.
In the introduction, Jette promises that "…each chapter stands alone…", permitting the reader to utilize this book not simply as a textbook or fireside reading, but as a valuable reference manual to utilize when coming upon those difficult moments while starting a business.
Jette begins by helping the reader explore the trepidation common to those considering professional Tarot. After all, many of us admit to a bit of ambivalence regarding charging for our readings or feel inadequate to do so professionally. In her book, Jette provides practical advice regarding how one may refine and enhance their reading style and boost confidence before 'going professional' (e.g., listening to taped readings for later review). She reinforces this advice with Tarot-based exercises by which the potential professional reader may explore the personality traits of those who wish to own their own business, determine the type of reader the reader may be, and focus on problems the reader may have with charging. She also debunks many of the most popular myths associated with owning your own business (e.g., 'you'll make lots of money fast', 'you’re the boss', and 'you’ll be in tough competition with other readers') and provides practical advice regarding combating them (such as finding a niche market).
In this book, Jette helps the reader consider overhead charges, their own combined skills (will you be using Tarot alone, or will you combine it with another skill you may have, such as Astrology, I-Ching, or Reiki?), and professional credibility in addition to supply and demand to determine the would-be reader's fees. Once your fees are established, however, you are going to need to decide uopn your accepted payment methods and refund policies. Not only does Jette cover these topics, but also guides the reader through the tricky process of communicating policies to clients and answering the tough business questions clients often ask (e.g., 'Why do you charge so much?' and 'What's included in your fee?'). Of course, the issue of advertising, test marketing, and finding the most appropriate work space for your practice are covered in considerable detail in this book.
Since you're reading this review online, it’s a fair bet that you may be considering running your new Tarot business on the Internet. While Jette does not provide the reader with programming, software, or computer tips per se, she provides a remarkable and very broad overview of the benefits and pitfalls of online and telephone Tarot businesses. She also provides practical advice and tips to help the reader advertise on the internet without resorting to spam as well as to deal with issues of payment (and nonpayment!).
Of course, those who wish to read by phone are not excluded. In addition to tips regarding appointment-making, she offers very practical (and headache-saving) advice regarding how to deal with the rare but undeniable hazards of telephone work (e.g., obscene callers, verbal abuse, and angry clients).
In the spirit of her quote, 'After the weather and computer technology, nothing changes faster than tax law' (pg 82), Jette guides the reader through such business issues as zoning, bookkeeping, barter, and legal structure. She offers a realistic approach to tax deductions (no, you can’t take your friend out to dinner, discuss the Two of Cups, and call it a 'business expense!') and includes a basic checklist of office supplies and business policies. Of course, there may come a time in which you feel it best to close your business, and Jette’s practical, empathic advice will help you do so with dignity.
I greatly appreciated Jette’s approach to establishing and nurturing an effective reading relationship and found that the conceptualization she offers is based on rather well-established counseling framework. In this manner, she helps the professional reader effectively communicate and carefully handle the clients in an empowering manner. Especially problematic areas that Jette covers particularly well include reading for teenagers (e.g., check out their parents and don't tell the future!) and dealing with clients in crisis.
Her advice regarding the recognizing, evaluating and calming clients in a crisis was a greatly need component of her text which, I fear, is generally underserved in many books on Tarot. Naturally, when one is faced with a client in crisis, it is often important to refer him or her to a professional qualified to provide the best care possible. Jette’s book assists the reader in determining when is the best time to do so, building a network of referral resources, and motivating the usually unwilling client to follow through with the referral.
In a rather small, but intensely helpful subsection entitled 'The Ten-Minute Reader', Jette offers valuable advice for those who are in situations in which many readings in rapid succession are the order of the day. This may be of particular use for those interested in reading Tarot at a psychic fair or Renaissance Festival.
Those simply interested in teaching Tarot may wish to skip straight to chapter six. Therein, Jette provides suggestions for planning lessons and designing workshops. As an educator, I greatly appreciated her discussion of the facets of teaching that are rarely discussed in text or classes. These include how to overcome stage fright, handle problem students, and avoid becoming the type of teacher that everyone seems to despise. For those lifelong students, Jette’s advice is also geared at helping the reader also become an effective student, recognize and overcome the learning plateau, and utilize theses experiences to enhance his or her own teaching style.
Of course, self-care is a major consideration for Jette, and it reflects very well in her book. It appears that she simply couldn’t resist adding an epilogue aimed at helping the professional reader maintain their motivation in their new profession and recognize, prevent, and overcome burnout. In addition, Jette’s appendices were of intense value. In there, the reader will find a readers’ code of ethics, some very nicely designed workshop outlines for those who wish to teach, and an annotated bibliography of business and counseling books as well as online resources for Tarot and business.
For all of its helpful and practical advice carried by Jette’s clear and concise writing style, this text may occasionally be seen as somewhat vague in certain arenas (e.g., some aspects of online tarot, tax, and legal considerations). Jette makes no apologies for this, however. In an effort to ensure that this book will remain timely, she explains very clearly that, due to the fast-changing nature of some aspects of business, some information is omitted intentionally. Instead, Jette points the reader in the general direction from which he or she may obtain the most up-to-date information.
In sum, this book fills a long-standing gap in the world of professional Tarot. It does not require that the reader be a well-versed Tarot reader or possess any business acumen to make use of its much-needed direction and guidance. As such, this engaging, easy-to-read book will be well suited to the experienced or novice Tarot reader who has even a passing curiosity regarding Tarot as a profession.
While learning to read Tarot as a young child, Tom LeBlanc had no idea what role Tarot would one day play in his life. Having grown up providing readings to family and friends, he took his trusty deck to college and discovered that he could partially support himself by reading for others. Now a Certified Tarot Consultant with over 25 years experience, a Ph.D. in Psychology, Tom enjoys providing occasional readings in addition to writing. Tom is currently involved in designing a Tarot Certification course for the College of the Sacred Mists.