Carly Bornstein-Hayward is a developmental editor specializing in genre-fiction, including but not limited to romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, erotica, and YA. Carly will help you find your voice and bring your vision to the reader. She will be your book’s best friend.

She has worked in the publishing industry for 9 years, including at a big 5 publishing house, a literary agency, and an indie publishing house that helps self-publishing authors. Carly graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in English. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Chicago Women in Publishing, and was a panelist at Book Expo America 2016.

What kind of entries are you looking for in this contest?

I want so many things! I have serious FOMO so I basically accept everything (with a few exceptions). I take most age groups (MG, YA, NA, A). I love romance (all sub-genres, even erotic romance), fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, magical realism, historical, and mystery. Didn’t I tell you I wanted everything? The only things I DO NOT want are: nonfiction, horror, or contemporary (unless it has magical elements or is a retelling). Some elements that will make me flip: an immersive world, retellings based on mythology/fairy tales, time-travel, new twists on old tropes, LGBTQA characters, complex characters, and characters that are bibliophiles (although, to be fair, this is common because we are all bibliophiles).

What is your background in editing?

I have worked in the publishing industry for many years, including at a major publishing house, a literary agency, and a small publishing house that helps self-publishing authors. That has helped me to see the industry from all different angles. I have been editing published works since 2007. I’ve been a part of the Pitch to Publication team since the first event, and I have given numerous talks about editing at places like RWA and BEA. While not a writer myself, my love of books has drawn me to editing and brought out my passion for developing stories.

What can writers expect from working with you during the contest?

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. 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.

What do you expect from writers during the contest revision process?

I expect you to be excited to get to work. We are going to have so much fun 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), and drink lots of caffeine.

What three books would you save in a dystopian future where libraries are banned?

I hate this question. It is like asking me to pick my favorite child (if I had children, that is). Here is my list nonetheless:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling (I cheated and brought a series, so sue me)

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