First 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.