So J and L had a 700-page manuscript to deal with.
Admittedly their investment was small–from the writer’s point of view, anyway. They had to pay whatever it cost them (before email and Facebook) to get it to publishers. They had to “talk it up” at lunches in New York, but I assume that my book was one of many they pitched. I guess they spent some time on the phone, but not, I also assume, long distance. They had to read it, of course, in order to decide they wanted to invest even this much. So these were their losses if the book did not sell.
Mine? I didn’t figure those. As far as I was concerned, I was going to write it anyway, whether it ever sold or not. I suppose I should have calculated opportunity costs. Could I have become a millionaire if I had invested all those hours in learning to beat the stock market or in becoming much sooner what I eventually became, a university professor? (Of course I would have been a biologist if I had planned better, not a writing teacher. Moms, don’t let your babies teach writing. . . .) But all I wanted to do was ride horses and write. Two guaranteed ways not to make money. But I have never regretted writing that book. Or riding horses. But that’s another story.
J and L said, we don’t like to edit. We don’t want to impose our views on what the editor will want, when you get one. At the time, that seemed smart. For that book, it probably was. But later, I wished I could have relied on them more as strong, knowledgeable readers. I have come to see readers willing to plow through and respond to drafts as essential to any writer’s attempts to find a market. Now I am hungry for the simplest chance to talk to someone about my work.