I have a writer friend who says he plans to start hiding $20 bills in his manuscripts as a test to see if the editor is really reading it. He's going to note exactly what page he tucked that bill into and if it hasn't moved when the manuscript returns, he will know it wasn't even read. What do you think about that?
He may call it a test, I call it a bribe--and it is a silly idea on so many levels.
1. Ethical editors will not accept money like this. So if he gets his manuscript back with the money removed, all he's done is found someone he shouldn't do business with. If I were to get a submission with a $20 tucked between the pages, it would stay right there exactly as I found it. I'd also stop reading when I found it and reject the manuscript. I refuse to work with someone who a) doesn't trust me; and b) thinks this is appropriate and professional behavior.
2. Most rejected manuscripts DON"T get read all the way through. Many, many times I can tell within the first couple of pages that it's not what I'm looking for. Why would I bother to read any more? I am looking for manuscripts to publish. I am not a free reading service.
3. Assuming I do read all or even most of the manuscript, does your friend think it stays all nice and neat in the box or envelope as I read it? No. I grab a chunk of papers and take it with me--to the doctor, parent-teacher conferences, running errands, etc. A $20 bill could easily fall out without my even noticing it.
4. He better make sure he includes a SASE for the return manuscript. If he doesn't, and I don't read far enough to find the money, the manuscript goes into the trash bin--$20 and all.
5. Has he never heard of things getting lost in the mail? Packages getting damaged and opened?
Tell your friend that his $20 would be far better spent on a subscription to Writers Digest magazine.