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2019 Annual Contest Editor ✓
Mini-Event Editor ✓

Carly Bornstein-Hayward is a developmental editor who will help you find your voice and bring your vision to the reader. Editing combines her creativity and her love of reading, giving advice, and logic puzzles. Carly will be your book’s best friend.

She has worked in the publishing industry for over 10 years, including at a big 5 publishing house, a small press, a literary agency, a hybrid publisher, and a self-publishing house that helped indie-authors. That experience has helped her to see the industry from all different angles. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Chicago Women in Publishing, and she was a panelist at Book Expo America 2016. She is also a co-founding RevPit editor and when not reading or working she lounges with her husband being vastly amused by their cats or binge-watching TV.


I love to read everything, but this year, I’m trying to narrow down my wish list (please don’t tempt me, I will feel left out). This year I am taking Adult, YA, and NA. I’m accepting most romance subgenres, including historical, paranormal, and erotica, but not contemporary. I’d also love to see fantasy, magical realism, historical fiction, dystopian, and speculative/light scifi. This year I DO NOT want anything contemporary (unless it has fantasy/sci-fi elements), horror, hard sci-fi (ex: space operas or aliens), mystery/thriller, or MG.

Some elements that will make me flip: diverse characters (including but not limited to LGBTQA+, racially diverse, and disabled characters), anything #OwnVoices, an immersive world, mythology, time-travel (ala Doctor Who), upside-down retellings, new twists on old tropes, and characters that are bibliophiles (although, to be fair, this is common because we are all bibliophiles).

Let’s break it down. I’m accepting:

  • Adult: fantasy, romance (paranormal, historical, erotica), soft sci-fi, historical fiction
  • New Adult: fantasy, romance, paranormal, historical fiction
  • Young Adult: fantasy, romance, magic realism, paranormal, historical, dystopian

No: nonfiction, hard sci-fi, contemporary (with the above exceptions), horror, mystery/thriller, or MG.


How can a manuscript’s first five pages make you sit up and take notice?

Voice. I know, I’m sure all of us want a strong voice. But truthfully, half of what will catch my eye is how strong your voice is and how well you know yourself as a writer. I also love strong characters. By strong characters I don’t mean perfect characters or characters that can lift twice their body weight (although a kick-ass character is always fun). I mean characters that are unique, interesting, flawed, opinionated, and active. They can be weak-willed while still being active characters that attempt to make decisions. If you throw me into the plot and make your characters' personalities known in the first five pages, you’ve got a fan.

What can writers expect from working with you during #RevPit, including communication?

My focus is and has always been to help you bring your vision to the reader. It is easy to get lost in what you think you are saying and not be able to see the pitfalls. My chosen author can expect to start with an in-depth assessment about the larger story issues. After receiving the assessment by email, I like to have a phone call where we can discuss all my advice and the best way to implement changes. Then, depending on how quickly and well that first round goes, we will either do another critique or do a round of line edits. This all depends on the manuscript itself; I will tailor my format based on what your manuscript needs. I’m always available by email and I try to get back to people within a day (if I take a couple of days, I always feel super guilty. Unless it’s the weekend; I love my weekends).

What do you expect from writers during the #RevPit revision process, including communication?

I expect you to be excited to get to work and to check your email more than sporadically. We are going to have so much fun talking and emailing back and forth discussing your story! But you need to be excited for the revision process for that to happen. You also need to have the time to dedicate to doing rewrites and possibly making big changes. We have a short time to do a lot of work, so I need you to be all in.

What hobbies do you have outside of writing and editing?

First of all, I don’t write. Please don’t hate me. I read. I read a heck of a lot. Constantly. Am I making that clear enough? Besides that, I like to draw (with charcoals), cuddle with my husband/cats (depending on which is being the cuddliest at the moment), watch a lot of TV, play a lot of video games (Horizon Zero Dawn, Assassin's Creed, Hitman, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, etc) and drink lots of caffeine (in coffee and tea form. Hot and iced. Flavored and not. Basically, every form).

What published book did you love in 2018, and what did you love about it?

It’s near impossible for me to pick just one, so as usual, I’m going to cheat. “One” that sticks out to me is Saga (all volumes) by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I was definitely late to the game, but I’m almost all caught up, I swear! I’ve read a few comic books and graphic novels, but this one made me fall in love with the medium. The artwork is phenomenal, and the story is gripping while still being full of emotion. The characters are so strong and flawed, and you are able to see all that through their dialogue. Each character has such a clear voice. If you haven’t read it, do it!

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