Twitter: @JayWhistler
2021 Annual Contest Editor ✓
2019 Annual Contest Editor ✓
Mini-Event Editor ✓

Jay Whistler is a professional editor specializing in children’s literature. She is also an acquisitions reader with a literary agency and a submissions editor for a literary journal. She has an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is an international presenter on the craft and business of writing. Jay is not a morning person and can often be heard growling before breakfast.

Pronouns: She/Her


I’m looking for MG or YA with strong voice, clear stakes, and characters that will stick with me.

  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • Magical realism (Note: magical realism is NOT the same as fantasy)
  • Romance/RomCom
  • Adventure/Suspense/Thriller
  • Mystery
  • Ghost Stories/Horror

I’m especially interested in #OwnVoices stories, and I want to signal boost LGBTQI stories and main characters of color, as well. I’ll take most things edgy, as long as it’s for a purpose. Don’t kill the dog for shock value.

While I appreciate a well-done fantasy or sci-fi story, I am not the best editor for this genre. I am also not into reboots of fairytales, mythology, or legends. Please no Christian fiction, dystopian, vampires/werewolves, adult fiction, or manuscripts over 100,000 words.


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

I am looking for voice, tension, and stakes. Who is this main character, what do they want, what happens if they don't get it? Who or what is standing in their way? There should be at least a hint of some disaster or huge change about to hit the MC. It doesn't have to be in these pages, but it must be clear that something is on the cusp. In other words, keep the reader needing, not just wanting, to turn the pages.

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

I will make you work, just like I do with all my clients. You WILL have homework, such as reading mentor texts to get a feel for what works and why, or books on the craft of writing to take you to the next level in your growth as an author. I will show you what is working in your MS, and I will be just as honest about what needs work. But I won't throw you in the deep end without a life ring. My goal is not to improve your MS (though we will do that as a team). Rather, my goal is make you a stronger writer, one who is able to diagnose your own MS and decide on a revision plan that makes sense so that you understand how to do this for all your future manuscripts. At a minimum, I will do one complete developmental edit with you, but if our schedule allows, I will look at a revision as well so that we can take your manuscript even further.

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

Because of the condensed schedule of the contest, I will respond within 24 hours of all emails, even if just to say, "Got it! I'll be in touch soon." I will also deliver all materials on time. I expect the same for the winner. Yes, we are all busy, and of course I will take your schedule into consideration as we work out deadlines, but to give your MS the best chance of grabbing an agent/editor's eye in the showcase, we both need to agree to be responsive and timely in our communication and delivery of materials.

What hobbies do you have outside of writing and editing?

Because writing is one of those activities that cause us to hunch over keyboards for hours on end and lose all sense of time to the point that we become crooked lumps at our desks, I counteract that with yoga, long walks with my big rescue dog, and gardening. I'm also a vegetarian, and I make my own body care products because I'm a treehugger like that. Unlike many of my writing/editing colleagues, I did not inherit the writer/knitter/quilter gene. Anything with fabric or yarn is beyond me.

What was your favorite show to binge watch in the last year?

I don't tend to binge-watch TV because when I find something I love, I want to savor it and make it last as long as possible. But recently I've been watching KILLING EVE (because Jodie Comer is brilliant and scary), rewatching all five seasons of JUSTIFIED (because it's Elmore Leonard and he is a god—may he rest in peace), and sitting in awe of Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth in THE CROWN.

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