Who Is Stephen Parolini?

sppartial2First things first – I actually do have two eyes of essentially equal size and, no, the left side of my face is not horrifically deformed (just normally deformed like the right side thanks to that unrelenting beast we call “time”). I thought it would be fun to play the part of the artsy, pretentious editor and this photo fit the bill. It would be rather pathetic of me to attempt such pretense in real life, so this is my only chance.

Who am I? Well, my name is Stephen Parolini. And I’m an editor. I’ve been editing for more than 25 years – everything from curriculum to study guides to self-help books to fiction. I even had a two-year stint as a columnist for a bi-weekly trade publication in the video game industry. So, yeah, I’ve got a diverse resume. Why, then, is this site dedicated primarily to fiction?

The short answer: I love fiction. Also, I’m pretty good at editing it.

For most of the past 20 years I’ve been a freelance editor, collaborating with a variety of publishing houses and individuals on books of all kinds. Some of the authors I’ve worked with include: Donald Miller, Joanna Penn, NYT bestselling authors Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, and a zillion others, many of whom are at the beginning of their publishing careers. I’ve also worked in an unofficial capacity with the inimitable Jenny Lawson (@TheBloggess), who invited my editorial thoughts for her bestselling Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and (soon to be bestselling) Furiously Happy. 

I am particularly drawn to contemporary general market novels with a literary bent. Well, that and science fiction. And fantasy. And memoirs. (I know they’re not fiction, but they require a similarly deft editorial touch.) And just about everything else.

I like my books the same way I like my music – I don’t care what genre label it wears. And yes, I’m aware that saying this is one of those “red flags” some folks raise about freelance editors. They  tell you specialization is one of the hallmarks of a good freelance editor. This is often true. But not always true. My specialization is…helping writers tell good stories. If I think I can do that for you, I’ll put you in the queue. See what I did there? I qualified my statement with that little “If I think I can do that for you” phrase.  I don’t work with everyone who inquires about editorial services. Despite having a love for many genres, there are some books that just aren’t for me. I’m not a fan of Amish fiction, for example. And sometimes I come across a book that I just don’t connect with, for reasons that aren’t always easy to explain. Don’t be too sad if I turn you away. There are dozens of great editors who will jump at the chance to work with you. And they are almost as nice as I am.

I’m a bit of a paradox – equal parts realist and idealist. But this tends to serve me well as editor. I’ll tell you the truth about your book (sometimes a hard truth), but I’ll also offer you encouragement. Not fleecy, “gosh, you’re swell, thanks for the check” encouragement, but the kind that reaches a deeper place and (hopefully) reveals to you the truth of your potential as a writer.

Is there anything else you’d like to know? Just ask. I might actually tell you.

10 thoughts on “Who Is Stephen Parolini?

  1. Hi, I am the final stages of editing my manuscript and will be looking for professional editing here in a couple months. I was wondering what your rates are and I was also hoping you could tell me a little bit about yourself as an editor. It seems as though you have a lot of experience, have you worked with any big name authors in the past?
    Thanks a bunch,

  2. I just started this lucky month of April to become educated in the world of editing and self publishing and I am already overwhelmed with information. I knew publishing was work and money, but I was hoping it wasn’t that much work or that much money (sad, sad little writer. Time to grow up).

    I had fun reading your site, though. It was both educational and amusing and, believe you me, I need the latter right about now. Maybe I’ll contact you, maybe I won’t. Time will tell.

    Overwhelmed and Under-studied

  3. I am interested in your service, even for after September 2014, but what I have is a memoir/creative nonfiction, not a novel. Do you critique only fiction or anything that is novel-length has a storytelling component?

    1. I do work with memoir/creative non-fiction, since those sorts of books have much in common with novels. Feel free to email me and we can talk about the possibility of working together. There’s a link somewhere around here for my email address. But in case I’ve hidden it too well, here you go: steve@noveldoctor.com.

  4. Hi Steve. I am a retired Fire Chief from Buffalo NY. Since retirement I have been working on my writing. I have three novels, a Firefighting bio and a book of short stories in need of an editor.
    The one I am most excited about is my last one, a young adult fantasy called “Dark Spirit.” I have gotten some great feed back from friends and family on it. However there are two friends who I trust who say it takes too long to open into the real story.
    Steve, I believe this is going to be a successful novel. I just need some help with it, the right kind of guidance. I can get anybody to correct my grammar and spelling. I’m looking for somebody who 1) believes in what I am doing and 2) is able to look at it and help me make any changes that it needs to get over the hump.
    How can we start to see if we are a good match to do business together?

  5. Hi again. I guess I should have read the link to Editorial Services first. I would be interested in one of your services. Can you e-mail me?

  6. Just read your novelette and loved it. Left a much-earned 5-star review on Amazon under my wife, Sandi’s name. (I always use her account.)

    I’m taking an editing class from Shawn Coyne in September and happened to be browsing various editor’s sites to see if I need a new one or if I should use my blog site as a home for an editing service. (www.storiform.com)

    I read a few paragraphs of “Duck” and couldn’t stop reading! I have a real soft spot for young characters who are revealed through believable childlike thoughts without self-pity despite how appropriate self-pity might seem in the reader’s judgment. Brilliant work! Thank you.

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