It's a New Year and we are back baby! Welcome the to Sword & Silk blog. It's Wednesday and appropriately we are kicking off with a new entry into our Writer Wednesday canon, where we discuss the ins and outs of industry, the craft of writing, and more.
Publishing Trends of 2023: Rise of the Machines?
With the start of a fresh year, publishing predictions are being bandied about and one of the biggest buzzwords on the lists is also the most controversial. That's right: the hot button topic on the trend list is all about A.I.
2022 saw the advent of A.I. in several creative spheres, from art to audio and now writing. And the results have been mixed. Earlier incarnations of A.I. art resulted in some truly horrifying anatomical amalgamations, but the real monster was how these programs grafted the work of human artists together without credit or permission. In a space where so many artists already struggle to make a living wage, or wages at all, the introduction of A.I. has been met with a great deal of backlash and rightfully so. While the prevalence of A.I. art and its habit of patchwork theft has been an ongoing battle in the art community, new stories are popping up encouraging the publishing industry to move towards A.I. narration of audiobooks.
A.I. narration is something that is already common use on many sites, but with several caveats that differ from audio book narration. Text to speech is the more colloquial term for it, but many sites use various programs to narrate text on screen to provide accessibility. However, that halting, stilted robotic voice does little to impart any nuance and emotion to the written word. The human element of audio book narration is performance. Warmth, the pause of breath, the weight placed on certain words that create impact.
Now A.I. is gaining a foothold in writing. The release of ChatGPT from OpenAI in late November has already started a buzz. Mark Dawson of the Self Publishing Formula sees the program as something to be embraced, while Bryan Cohen of Best Page Forward believes authors should embrace A.I. writing as a useful tool.
"It won’t mean that the ‘robots’ will take over the bestseller list. Authors will use AI tools like Sudowrite as part of their regular process to blow past writer’s block and create more books in less time." -Bryan Cohen
The common theme for pros about A.I. writing is that it can be used to boost productivity levels and make more books in shorter time. That A.I. also opens up avenues in everything from generating marketing copy to brainstorming tools and more. Authors talk about training A.I. tools to use their particular voice by feeding it their own work. But the shift to A.I. will likely leave many leery and if the A.I. writing tools are anything like the A.I. art sites, a healthy dose of skepticism wouldn't be remiss. How many of those A.I. generated paragraphs might be scalped from another author's work? Are you truly training an A.I. by feeding it your work or are you merely feeding the mimic machine to work for everyone else?
Artificial Intelligence is the new minefield of the publishing industry and a tricky one to thread when there are currently so many issues with ownership and rights. Many indie publishers are stepping back from A.I. entirely to avoid the minefield but there has already been whispers of interest from the self publishing community. It's only a matter of time before the Traditional side wades in.
However, it may not matter what trad publishing has to say because Indie continues to grow. 2022 saw the rise of serialization and 2023 looks to continue the trend. With programs like Kindlevella allowing indie authors to serial then publish their stories in long format ebooks on the same platform, it allowed multiple avenues of revenue for authors' work. New sites like Yonder partnered with Written Word Media to take advantage of what many webtoon and manga sites have done for years, by putting a library at the users finger tips to be accessed via incremental payments.
Indie is also gaining ground in foreign rights markets, with more and more indie authors landing translation contracts, and with Indie and self publishing authors finding methods to globally distribute their books in foreign markets. English is a wide spoken and wide read language, including in many countries in Asia, where the market for indie books has expanded.
And last but not least, Booktok is still on trend and looks like it's not going anywhere. However the booktok audience has matured and been embraced by traditional publishing as a market for books. Love it or hate it, tiktok has established itself as a social media platform to be explored. While not all authors find the appeal, experts say they should find a way to connect, whether through influencers or finding readers to talk about their books on the platform.
Perhaps they can use A.I. to help them make videos.