Carly Bornstein-Hayward is a developmental editor specializing in genre fiction, including but not limited to romance, mystery, 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 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. 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 she was a panelist at Book Expo America 2016. She is also a co-founding Revise & Resub (RevPit) editor and a ShoreIndie editor.


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, speculative/light scifi, and mystery/thriller. This year I DO NOT want anything contemporary (unless it has magical elements or is a mystery/thriller), horror, hard sci-fi (ex: space operas or aliens), or MG.

Some elements that will make me flip: an immersive world, mythology, time-travel, fairy tale retellings, new twists on old tropes, diverse characters (including but not limited to LGBTQA, racially diverse, and disabled characters), anything #OwnVoices, 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, mystery/thriller, 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, 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), and drink lots of caffeine (in coffee and tea form. Hot and iced. Flavored and not. Basically, every form).

What was your favorite childhood book and what did you love about it?

There are so many to choose from! I’m going to be good and only list one, but know that there are others I could rhapsodize about endlessly. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards (who knew Mary Poppins wrote books?!) was one of my all-time favorites. I loved the idea that if I opened up my imagination enough, I could travel to other lands. It was basically a metaphor for how books made me feel. But mainly, I wanted a clear umbrella with yellow butterflies on it so that people think to look up on rainy days.

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