Interview with Ghostwriter Crystal Maddux

IMG_20171008_081800_084   Crystal Maddux is an editor, author, and consultant from Ohio. She has been writing since 2002 and launched her freelance business in 2016.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Crystal. Without further ado…

Why did you begin writing? 

Mostly, I began to write because it was an escape. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at a young age, and writing helped me to cope with it. I never anticipated it would evolve into a passion, but eventually it turned into a dream, and soon became my career. I count myself lucky and blessed that I’m able to do what I love, and help others do what they love as well.

What guidance did you receive that helped you improve your skills? 

Funny story. Once upon a time, I couldn’t stand the thought of reading. I struggled with it, I hated doing it, and I never could focus on it. My cousin, who became an early education teacher, brought me to the library several days a week and made me read a book for hours. This happened well before I began to write, but I also believe it’s one of the reasons why I started to write. To this day, I’m filled with so much gratitude that she remained patient with me and helped me. If not for her, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do now. 

Now, I continue to garner support through an online writing community that I founded and moderate. The group of people in that community are incredible and so supportive. Every day is a learning experience and every day, my skills change in both small and big ways.

How did you get started in the freelance ghostwriting industry? 

The way I found myself in freelance was kind of unorthodox. For years, my dream has always been to become a published author, but I always put it on hold to work. I had been working at a Ford Dealership as an SEO Marketer and Content Creator when I discovered I had a heart condition. While I was working for the company, I was always
stressed, so I would write (while on the job) to relieve some of the tension I was under.
Eventually, my heart condition worsened and before long, my doctor said it was high time I quit.
I found myself unemployed with no income, and that wasn’t acceptable by any means.

Now that I had found myself jobless, the notion to pursue my dream started to tickle my brain. It wasn’t until I heard about ghostwriting through my sister that I realized I could work from home and do what I love. So, I researched freelance ghostwriting; I read all the horror tales, all the success stories, what I needed to start, and what I should avoid. All the ins and outs, I made sure I was familiar with. So, I made myself about 20 writing samples. I had nothing to start with, and I was nervous making my own samples, but when you’re a new writer, how else are you going to attract business? For the next month, I sent my samples out to every job I could find – during this time, I got rejection after rejection, and that was difficult.
It was around the 30-day mark, and I was close to throwing in the towel. I had no money, I was pretty much on borrowed time. And then, someone finally decided to take a chance on me. It was the next month after that I made my business.

How did you grow your audience?

Power of Persuasion, determination, and frankly being witty.

Growing your audience is tough, and it was something I really struggled with when I first started out. I’m socially awkward, so communication with others is a challenge for me. But, I’ve found that people don’t like business talk, they like wit and charm, and relatable stories. I mean, why else would the seek out a writer if they didn’t want a storyteller?

So, I grew my audience by connecting with them on a personal level. I shared in their woes, gave them encouragement, told them stories, all the while not changing how awkward I was, because my awkward personality is a great narrative. I made sure to never stray from my niche and I always kept my word when delivering promises. When I finally figured that out, it wasn’t hard growing my audience from there!

What have been your biggest challenges as an author? 

Lack of confidence. Doubt. Fear of rejection. It’s hard to narrow it down to one, but they all kind of run in the same vein. As an author, you’re not only writing just to write, you put a piece of yourself into your work, and if you get any negative feedback, it’s incredibly difficult not to take it personal. It feels like you are getting judged and rejected, and maybe you are a little. It makes you doubt whether you’re good enough. The challenge is not to let the doubt, the fear, or the lack of confidence win.

What sort of pieces work well in a portfolio for a new writer? 

Two things: Variety and Niche. 

As a new writer, you must have an objective and determine what you want to do in the writing industry, and once you have a plan, you need to build off the plan by creating your portfolio. For me, I went the freelance fictional writer route, so I needed a variety of genres in my arsenal, but it also didn’t hurt to expand and add a few other things like blog writing or academics to my skills.

Your portfolio doesn’t have to be large, but your skills need to outshine what you don’t have. And whatever you don’t have, in the meantime, you work at trying to earn it. 

It’s really all about variety; anything that showcases your skills (and your niche) and that gets the point across to whoever you’re trying to sell to.

If you could offer one piece of advice for an aspiring author, what would it be? 

No one is going to tell you what the right way is to write, because there is no right way. They’ll say there’s a main rule to abide by, that you must constantly read, constantly write, or carry a notebook in your pocket to keep track of your ideas. All good pieces of advice.

Honestly, if you want to become a successful writer, you must believe in yourself, be dedicated, practice, and never give up. It’s all about taking a chance on yourself and hoping the world will return in kind.

You can find Crystal online at:
Twitter: @cmadduxwrite
Facebook: C Maddux Write
Instagram: @cmadduxwrite

Thank you once again for taking the time to chat with me and give me a glimpse into your world, Crystal. I enjoyed it very much and I’m sure my readers will, too!



The Dreaded Second Book

I’ve recently come to a realization. Or maybe a clarification; deep down, I’m sure I’ve known this for a long time.

My procrastination skills lately have evolved past a simple “I’ll do it later and play video games now”, and have turned into “but I gotta research before I jump into anything”, “I’m going to set up this [website/social media profile/etc] until it’s PERFECT”, and “I’m going to work on this other creative endeavor instead.”

I like to collect bits of wisdom from those who have blazed the trail before me, like this tweet by literary agent Ginger Clarke with Curtis Brown:

When I read it, I had to stop what I was doing (inanely scrolling through my twitter feed, checking out Who’s Who in the literary world) and think about what it meant for me.

After I wrote my original novel, I decided to take a break from world-building and character-creating and dive into the world of fan fiction, which doesn’t always deserve the bad rap it gets. I’ve read some superb writing that held my attention better than any novel might have at the time–but I digress.

I started watching a new show, got hooked, and jumped into fan fiction for it by writing a novel-length “alternate universe” story. It took about five months to write the whole thing. I immediately jumped into a sequel.

It’s been over a year and the plot is nowhere near finished, and I barely update once a month. When I read that tweet, all of a sudden it made sense.

Some beginnings are easy.

The beginning of a novel when you have a grand idea, for instance, will flow for the first couple thousand words. Then you get into the meat of things and everything grinds to a halt. You’ve set the stage, had your inciting incident, gotten your characters on their path to… somewhere.

Now what?

But you work hard, make it through, the ending comes whipping through like a tornado and then it’s all finished. Writing a novel series, or even multiple unrelated novels, works the same way.

And I think that’s pretty neat.


Writer’s Review:

When I decided to get back into the writing game, I knew I had to use something a little more sophisticated than Google Docs. Don’t get me wrong, I love its “Export as…” feature and simplistic design, but a novel is a beast of a thing to organize.

The first program I turned to was Scrivener. I looked into reviews to see if it was worth the $45 USD for a PC licence, and found a mixed response. Some people love its versatility. Others think it complicated, especially if its manual-style tutorial is anything to go by. That’s how I came across an alternative: I was immediately drawn to it for three reasons.

  1. No software required
  2. You can download your work to your computer
  3. It’s FREE (although they do have a donation link on their website).

Of course I signed up right away. After downloading and using the Scrivener trial for a bit, I discovered a couple of things right off the bat about TN that I really loved. First of all, the nesting system (Story > Chapter > Scene) is almost identical to Scrivener’s. It is exactly what I was looking for. Second, despite its lack of the cork board and chapter synopsis cards that Scrivener has, it doesn’t feel like I’ve lost any functionality. You can edit the name and icon for each nested list to make it easy to find what you’re looking for. And, once again, it’s free. 

Despite that fact, I do have a couple of nitpicks.

Unlike Google Docs, anything you copy and paste into TN doesn’t automatically format from the source, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to transfer your work between platforms.

Second, I can’t seem to add images to a document like I can in Scrivener. Granted, hosting costs are expensive, but I wish there were at least a way to link an image and have it display in the editor.

Oh well. I guess I’ll make do with all of the other in-depth yet simplistic functionality it offers.


8/10, definitely recommend.