After 40 years as a newspaper reporter/editor/columnist and 30 years as an author, I've discovered the joy of being the wind beneath other writers' wings. A recent client, Diane Carlson Evans ("Healing Wounds: A Vietnam Combat Nurse's 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C.") inscribed her book to me like this: "Because of you, you hold this book. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." And I thought: What a privilege — to help tell someone else's story and, if even in a small way, change the world.
From my perspective, the glory of book writing isn't in self-indulgence but in service — to the world at large. It's having the confidence to think you have something to say to people and the humility to help others help you say it better. It's being a pebble on life's water, knowing your ripples of words can make a difference. I was less proud that my 2004 book, "American Nightingale," was featured on ABC's "Good Morning America" than that it inspired the Massachusetts State Legislature to resurrect a long-dead bill and honor my subject, World War II nurse Frances Slanger, who died in battle. I had the privilege of bringing to life a hero whose story likely would have died in the darkness.
Because a handful of my books have been war-related, I'm often asked if I have a particular interest in combat as a subject. No. I have a particular interest in people who overcome huge odds, who live with integrity, who find uncommon courage, and who, thus, teach us not through bragging about themselves but through living lives of quiet, other-oriented conviction. It just so happens that war has been the arena in which many of my subjects have had such attributes tested.
One necessity for me as a potential partner with you: I must believe whole-heartedly in your story. Twice I've signed contracts with clients — both professional athletes — whose lives, I came to l earn, revealed serious hypocrisy. The more I got to know their stories, the less I wanted to tell those stories. In both cases, I opted out of the deals. Character matters to me. So does honesty.
— Experience. Besides the 25 books I've authored, I've written more than 3,000 newspaper columns; taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism & Communication; founded the Beachside Writers Workshop on the Oregon Coast; spoken at the National Writers Workshop; been published in such magazines as "Runner's World," "Sports Illustrated," "Reader's Digest" and "Los Angeles Times"; and judged the Erma Bombeck humor contest, in which one of the winning entries was about a woman who was getting a mammogram when the machine caught fire.
— Versatility. I've written about everything from book-writing kittens to World War II soldiers; from my adventures hiking the Oregon portion of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail to my adventures as a father; from a college athletic director whose life unraveled after going public with the revelation that he'd been sexually abused as a child to a millionaire who gave away his money and embedded himself in Dallas' poorest community to help resurrect it. I particularly like history, sports and stories of unsung heroes such as Frances Slanger, a Polish Jewish woman who was a "throwaway"—initially barred from passing through Ellis Island—and, as the first American nurse to die after the landings at Normandy in World War II, became the first woman to have a U.S. hospital ship named in her honor ("American Nightingale," Simon & Schuster's Atria Books).
— Speed. For 14 years, I wrote three columns a week for "The Register-Guard" in Eugene, Oregon. Believe me, I get deadlines.
— Respect. Ask my clients: I play well with others. Yes, I get paid for doing what I do—paid well. But the client always comes first and, when it comes to every word in his or her book, always bats last.
— Humor. Life's too short to fight your way through projects. If we aren't laughing a bit during the experience, why bother?
— Empathy. The world is short on the stuff. One of my virtues is being able to step into someone else's shoes, and see the world — and tell a story — through that person's eyes. Ghostwriting is akin to acting; you must become the character you play, whether—as in my case—it's been a nurse in the Vietnam, an athletic director who was sexually abused or an Olympic high-jumper whose backward-over-the-bar style revolutionized the world. My job isn't to foist myself into your story; my job is to unlock and amplify your story through your experiences and my expertise.
What My Clients Say
"Bob Welch is a first-time author’s best friend. His creativity energy, easygoing nature, and gift with words made authoring my first book an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Bob took my sporadic thoughts and scribbled notes to create a truly cherished manuscript.'
— Michael Fechner, author, "Lessons on the Way to Heaven: What My Father Taught Me"
"Bob did an amazing job of making our vision come to life. He walked beside us and guided us through the process, providing us with his wisdom and compassion!"
— Marianne McNally, daughter of World War II soldier Don Malarkey, who I wrote about in "Easy Company Soldier" and in the forthcoming book, "Saving My Enemy"
"My book would never have happened without Bob Welch's wisdom, encouragement, interviewing skills, and writing talent. And he made the experience fun even while, at times, challenging me to reach higher and dig deeper with how much I should share in my memoir. He is the definition of exceptional mentoring, editing, and creativity. In particular, if your book involves historical content, I am convinced you will be happy with his collaboration."
— Clarice Wilsey, author, "Letters from Dachau: A Father’s Witness of War, a Daughter’s Dream of Peace"
“It was a great pleasure working with Bob Welch as co-author of my memoir — start to finish! I was fortunate that Bob believed in the book that burned inside of me. He skillfully used my words and crafted in my voice, the story I thought I could never effectively write. He shouldered and edited mounds of archives and interviews with enthusiasm and good humor, paying attention to every detail while shepherding me through a compelling manuscript 50 years in the making.”
— Diane Carlson Evans, author, “Healing Wounds, A Vietnam War Combat Nurse’s 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C.”
What Others Have Said
"Bob Welch is as fine a nonfiction writer as America has ever produced."
— Marcus Brotherton, New York Times Bestselling Author
"Welch is the most eclectic writer in America.”
— Author Mike Yorkey
How Amazon.com Readers Have Rated My Books
(Based on customer reviews on a 5.0 scale as of 9/6/20)
5.0 "The Wizard of Foz" (50 reviews)
5.0 "Letters from Dachau" (29 reviews)
4.9 "52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol" (74 reviews)
4.9 "Healing Wounds" (47 reviews)
4.8 "Easy Company Soldier" (335 reviews)
4.8 "American Nightingale" (54 reviews)
4.8 "Boy in the Mirror" (17 reviews)
4.8 "52 Little Lessons from It's a Wonderful Life" (194 reviews)
4.8 "52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables" (58 reviews)
4.8 "Lessons on the Way to Heaven" (48 reviews)