Valley experts rate online guides to great new careers - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Valley experts rate online guides to great new careers

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Posted: Monday, February 16, 2004 9:07 am | Updated: 4:48 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Bored with your job? Why not become a pop star, standup comic, professional golfer or archaeologist instead? A new series of online books is devoted to helping readers find the career of their dreams., a company out of Calgary, Alberta, has been publishing the books, whose titles generally begin, "Become a. . . ."

There are more than 50 guides so far, with more on the way. Not all careers they tout are as difficult to achieve as, say, becoming a model or becoming an Olympic athlete. You can also read about how to become a coffeehouse owner, massage therapist or butler. Books, which are sent via Web link or on CD-ROM, range from $19.95 to $29.95, but the site ( offers discounts. To find out if the guides are helpful or hooey, we asked some local experts to put the titles to the test.

- "Become an Art Curator" Reviewer: Marilu Knode, Phoenix, senior curator at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Pros: "It did cover a broad range of topics and had a pretty good list of reference materials."

Cons: "It doesn’t at all reflect the global nature of the field. It’s a pretty big omission. Everybody needs to speak different languages in the art world just to get through school."

On the money: The author says jobs pay as high as $100,000 per year, but doesn’t say that you could end up in Boise for $22,000 per year.

Worth it? "Absolutely, but because of the way the book is structured, I think it’s a little bit misleading." "Become a Stand-Up Comic" Reviewer: Mark Cordes,

Scottsdale, full-time stand-up comedian

Pros: The book gave an accurate account of the behind-the-scenes drudgery of stand-up, Cordes said, like traveling and lining up work.

Cons: It’s too simple. "I think it speaks to our society — everyone wants to take a shortcut. No amount of reading or classes or seminars can replace getting in front of an audience and trying your stuff out. . . . There is no formula for funny. It’s one thing to tell inside jokes and do impressions of the boss, but it’s another to get up in front of strangers and make them laugh."

On the money: Accurately talks about pay scales, which range from working for $300 per week to millions.

Worth it? "Yes, for someone who wants a thumbnail sketch of how the industry works, I think it’s informative."

"Become a Mystery Shopper"

Reviewer: Ilisha Newhouse, Chandler, mystery shopping instructor and author of "Mystery Shopping Made Easy," due to be released in April (McGraw-Hill; $12.99)

Pros: "It describes the industry and gives you leads and links."

Cons: A lot of the links were repetitive, and it doesn’t give you enough help to get you up and running in the business. Ninety-eight percent of mystery shopping jobs is independent contract work and you have to set up a small business and pay your own taxes.

On the money: It didn’t discuss in detail how much money you’d be making. (Newhouse’s book gives detailed charts on how much different types of jobs pay, and says you can earn $40,000 per year "if you hustle," she said.)

Worth it? "It’s a great book for someone who’s curious, but the price is a bit steep."

"Become a Romance Writer"

Reviewer: Connie Flynn, Scottsdale, author of 10 published romance novels

Pros: Awesome Web links; great index, well-formatted. "She did a very good job of shattering the myth that Harlequin romance is formulaic."

Cons: "It makes it seem a bit too easy. It’s an up-and-down world and I don’t think the author portrayed that as well as she might have. It didn’t say that most writers need a second income somewhere."

On the money: "It did explain that if you could write three to four books a year, you could make a living income of $30,000 to $50,000 a year. The thing that she didn’t explain is how hard it is to get that many contracts a year or how hard it is to write that many books."

Worth it? "Yes, for people who are totally unfamiliar with the romance genre or novel writing in general. It’s very well-organized and chatty. It was an easy read."

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