Member Spotlight: Cyn Balog

How did you land your first book ghostwriting project?
It was about 12 years ago, and I was in the middle of a contract with Random House, writing YA novels, and at the time I was producing one book a year for them. I’m a quick writer and was looking for a way to quit my day job as Marketing Manager, so I thought if I could only work on 2 or more books a year, I could cover the salary if I was allowed to write more books. However, my agent told me that my publisher only wanted 1 book a year from me, so as not to ‘dilute my brand’.

So, I started writing and self-publishing romances. Self-publishing was new at the time, and while my books were successful, I found I didn’t like the marketing aspect of it (odd, considering I am a Marketing Manager by trade!). I loved the idea of writing a book and handing it over to someone else to do everything else! I happened to be on Upwork, which was new at the time, and saw a USAT bestselling author who needed help writing a second novel. I applied, got the job, found I liked it, and started to do more. I wound up doubling my salary from my day job and quit it the next year… and I’ve been ghostwriting full-time since then.

 

What is your secret sauce, or what makes you different from other ghostwriters?

The first thing is that I only do fiction, which makes me different from about 99% of ghostwriters! I am completely self-taught in the art— from a very young age, I was constantly buying writing books and reading everything about the craft. I wrote my first novel when I was 14 and because I love it so much, I actually feel sick when I’m not writing.

Everyone in my life told me I couldn’t make a living writing fiction, and stupidly, I listened to them. Thus the marketing job. But after ignoring the siren’s call to write for 20 years, I finally gave in and started again. After that, I sold my first YA novel in a pre-empt to Random House fairly quickly. Therefore, I think what makes me different is that I have a lot of experience in not only writing novels, but in the whole process of attracting an agent and getting traditionally published by a major publisher. I have been making a living at writing for over 10 years.

There are a lot of ghostwriters out there who say they use ghostwriting as a way to get experience to write their own books. I am the opposite! Ghostwriting is much harder than writing one’s own books, because you have to be experienced in writing in voices other than your own. The thing that makes fiction distinctive is the voice, and I aim to write in the voice my client wants me to use.

 

What do you wish clients understood about the ghostwriting process?

First, that it’s not a linear project. It doesn’t come out perfectly in the first draft. I write the bones first. Then I go back and add to it, putting more meat on the bones.

Secondly, I’m not a mind-reader. I do specialize in filling in the blanks, whether large or small. Some clients don’t have a lot of material to start with. Others have pages and pages of source material. It’s all good. My job is to get it to the point of a publishable novel, no matter what state it’s in. But If a client wants something in the book, they have to tell me!

Thirdly, publishing traditionally is NOT easy, even with a ghostwriter. It’s a crapshoot and sometimes it just comes down to luck. I can not guarantee anyone that the book I write will win them a contract. No ghostwriter can. The best I can do is give you the tips and tools to present yourself professionally to editors and agents.

 

How would you describe your favorite type of project and client?

It’s usually someone who has done their homework, who has researched ghostwriters before contacting me, and who has maybe even read a few of my books! A lot of my clients are aspiring writers who just don’t know how to go about writing their book. So I don’t mind chatting with them and explaining my process, so that they might be able to write the next book themselves. Often, they’re the most appreciative of the work I do.

 

What are the best parts of this career?

Of course it’s when a client of mine gets a contract or hits the bestseller list! There is no better feeling than that. People often say to me, ‘Don’t you care that your name isn’t on that successful book?’ And I really don’t mind at all. My sense of fulfillment comes whenever a client who has had an idea in their head for decades— but has never had either the time or talent to write it— finally gets to see that idea come to life so they can share it with the world.

 

How can people reach you?

My website is www.cynbalog.com or you can email me at cyn@cynbalog.com

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