On Turning Down Reading Invites: What’s a Writer’s Time Worth?

It’s not like I’m being asked to do out-of-town speaking engagements, but I like to prepare for the problems of my aspirational future today. I found this a useful reminder of a question I’m often grappling with—what’s my time worth, to who or what do I owe my time, and what uses of my time will make my own life best and honor my most important commitments and relationships? Phew! And, just as important, is Lev Raphael’s suggestion of what to say when you’re thinking “Gosh, what can I say when I don’t have to but just really want to say no?”

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Lev Raphael Lev Raphael

A guest post from Lev Raphael:

Years ago, when I was speaking on a panel at the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh, I met the writer Evelyn Torton Beck, who was personable, wise, and funny.  She was the first author to talk to me about accurately assessing what my time was worth when I was invited to speak out of town.

It’s not just the day you’re there, she said, if it’s only a day.  It’s the day before, getting ready, and then at least one day of re-entry into your regular schedule, sometimes more, depending on how complicated your visit was.

I’d never thought of doing a gig in those terms and it was immensely helpful.  Like the time I was invited to speak in San Francisco, and the speaker’s fee was good.  But that’s as far as it went: they weren’t even offering to cover hotel…

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