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Carly Hayward is a developmental editor who helps authors find their voice and bring their book to light. With 10+ years in publishing, she’s worked all over the industry, including at a big 5 publishing house, a small press, a hybrid publisher, and a literary agency. She is a co-founding Revise & Resub (#RevPit) editor, a host on Story Chat Radio, a writing advice podcast, as well as an EFA member. She will be your book’s best friend.
Editing combines her love of reading, giving advice, and logic puzzles. 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 only taking Adult. I’m accepting most romance subgenres, including historical, paranormal, and fantasy, but not contemporary. I’d also love to see fantasy (mainly, cozy, dark and gritty, gothic/historical, or fantasy/sci-fi genre mash-ups), and character-driven speculative/sci-fi.
Let’s break it down. I’m accepting:
- Adult: romance (paranormal, historical, fantasy), sci-fi, fantasy (either dark and gritty or cozy)
No: nonfiction, contemporary (with the above exceptions), non-gothic horror, mystery/thriller, YA, or MG.
Some elements that will make me flip:
- Complex non-romantic relationships (friendships, found families, siblings)
- Very character-driven plots
- Cozy fantasy ala Legends and Lattes or Can't Spell Treason without Tea (or maybe even cozy sci-fi?? Can we make that a thing?)
- All the seedy underbellies (especially in a city setting)
- Spooky or gothic vibes in a fantasy setting (think Six of Crows or Mexican Gothic)
- Underrepresented mythologies (underrepresented in publishing)
- Morally grey POV characters/villain POVs (think anything V.E. Schwab)
- Bantering dialogue
- Geeky/nerdy characters
- Retellings that are unique or I haven’t seen before (think representation from a marginalized group or something completely out-there)
- Diverse characters (including but not limited to LGBTQA+, BIPOC, and especially disabled characters)
- I don't want the diversity to be the only focus of the book. People are more than their marginalization and are complex characters. Don't distill them to just one thing.
- #OwnVoices (I won’t ask authors to disclose or confirm this. I'm not looking to out anyone. If you feel comfortable listing it, great! But I do realize some stories may be OwnVoices that authors are uncomfortable disclosing or prefer not to use the term. This will not affect your submission status)
Some elements that I do not want to see:
- The Chosen One trope
- Typical medieval settings
- Epic fantasies that are the classic “sword and sorcery” without new elements being a LARGE part of the story
- Perfect characters
- Classically "good" heroes
- Perfect fairy-tale settings with no seedy underbelly
- Good vs. Evil with no moral ambiguity
- Saving the world is the only goal (I want personal stakes too)
- Sick-lit or other similar stories that make disability overly romantic/tragic.
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 world 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?
I am all about becoming part your team. This is your book and 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 evaluation about the larger story issues. After receiving the evaluation by email, I like to have a phone/video/text chat 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 may do another critique. 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. I want to be part of your team and your partner. If you make the effort to chat with me, I'll be there with you every step of the way. If you are quiet, I'll be quiet. It all comes down to what you want!
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 (Hades, Horizon Zero Dawn, Hitman, Spider-Man, Transistor, etc) and drink lots of caffeine (in coffee and tea form. Hot and iced. Flavored and not. Basically, every form).