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Doug Wagner

Life, captured.

Doug Stipple.jpg

To truly capture a life with words, a writer needs insight, compassion and a
genuine interest in others. What makes them tick? What prepared them for their
unique—and possibly outrageous—achievements? What powers them through the day? What role have their failings—which we all have—played in their success? What are they afraid of? What aren’t they afraid of?


These are all things I want to know about you. Every life is fascinating. Even
if you’ve only been around for a couple of decades, you know this. You’ve lived it. And I want to capture what makes your life fascinating by using a system that allows us to explore, speculate, connect dots and discover.

The Process

My interview method is simple: We have a conversation. Well, many, actually.
Yes, I’ll have lists of prepared questions, but they’re only points of departure. As I
listen to you, I can guarantee that my curiosity will lead us to lots of places we
hadn’t planned to go. Despite my lists, it’s an organic process—just like a
conversation. Though questions will surely lead to answers, answers will also lead
to questions, and that’s the important thing. I can’t possibly know ahead of time
every question that will need to be asked—just the obvious ones. The best ones
emerge when you tell me something unexpected and we head down a path where we both learn something about life.


It only makes sense. As you reflect on the events that have made you who you
are, paths and patterns are bound to reveal themselves and it’s bound to become
clear that your fascinating life is even more fascinating than you knew.


That’s the promise I offer—that I will mine your life for every bit of
fascination we can share with readers. Whether you’re a CEO, an MD, a professional speaker, an extreme athlete, an actor, a musician or a master chef, when the process is complete we’ll have a marketable, print-ready story that will hook anyone with an interest in the human experience.


the Voice

And it will all be told in your voice. Don’t know how you want your voice to
sound? We’ll figure it out through some back-and-forth. I’ll submit an excerpt to you in the early stages, you’ll make adjustments where the voice sounds “off” to you, I’ll refine it if it’s not quite there grammatically or otherwise and we’ll keep adjusting until it’s perfect. And by “perfect” I mean we’ll have a voice that’s strong, distinct, consistent and you.


Maybe you want to sound exactly like you sound in conversation—that’s
easy. One of my strengths as a writer is my ability to translate spoken voices to the page as is. But many authors don’t want their writing voice to sound like their
conversational voice, and in these cases we need to create a writing voice, which

isn’t as hard as it might sound. As long as you give me an idea of your desired voice to use as a starting point, we’ll get where you want to go.

I’ve ghostwritten, collaborated on and edited books in a broad range of
genres and subjects, and my “vocal” range is just as broad. Clients commonly tell me that they’re impressed and grateful that my editing seamlessly preserves their voices. I’ve worked on fiction and nonfiction books in categories as diverse as mainstream literature, sci-fi, young adult, mystery, business, health, science, true
crime, memoir, biography and personal development, but you won’t find my
fingerprints in any of them.

Why Me?

None of this is to say I don’t have a voice of my own to draw on when
necessary. Maybe you’ve noticed that this page doesn’t sound like typical marketing copy, that the writing has a little more character than you expected. That’s because I’m trying to save you a step. Why not give you some idea of what I have to offer right up front? I don’t want to waste your time by focusing on the hard sell here and making you request samples only to have you later find out I’m not much of a writer.


I’m more than happy to send those samples, but when it comes right down to it, every project is different, and my samples will only show you how well I suited the needs of someone else’s story. My recommendation is that after reviewing my work and determining that you want to move ahead with me, you engage me to create detailed chapter descriptions (or coach you to create them), known as “concept development,” and to write a single chapter of your book, and we’ll see how it goes. It’s the only way for you to be sure—before entering a contract for a complete manuscript—that I can capture your unique voice and shape your story the way you want it to be shaped. All my clients have hired me to write their full manuscripts after that first chapter, but I understand that you might have a story with unique complexities I haven’t encountered before. I’m not asking you to enter into a commitment without the clearest indications possible that I’m the right writer to help you tell your particular story.


My fee for the concept development phase is $100 an hour, and the process
usually ranges from twenty-five to fifty hours. My fee to write the book is $2 a word, and the fee for the sample chapter is based on the percentage of the overall story that it’s likely to represent. On completion of the chapter, if you want to engage me to complete the manuscript, we’ll sign a contract and I’ll devote the next nine months to capturing a life unlike any other. If you decide not to hire me, you’ll come out of the process with a clear, detailed concept of what your book needs to be that you can take to a different writer. And you won’t have handed over tens of thousands of dollars up front only to be unhappy with the results.

What More

Can I

Tell You?

As a ghostwriter and sometimes a “deep ghost”—a ghostwriter whose name
doesn’t appear anywhere in “the credits” of a book he’s written—I’m not at liberty
to publicly (or even, in many cases, privately) list the books I’ve worked on, but I’ll
share the samples I can. Between those and the chapter of your own book that I’ll
write, you’ll have the most relevant information you could hope for in deciding
whom to trust with your one-of-a-kind story.


I’m happy to answer any questions you have. I realize that the idea of
figuratively putting your life in the hands of someone who hasn't lived it can be daunting, but as a student of life, I’ve been paying close attention, and that gives me an edge that I think will quickly be apparent. I’m here to talk if you’d like to. You might be surprised by what can come from a simple conversation.


*Header art by Maggie Wagner




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