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Writer Wednesday: The A.I. Flood

Hello and Good Morning authors and welcome to another #writerwednesday where we talk shop, industry and more. Today we are revisiting a topic discussed earlier this year during our trend talk of 2023. That's right, the influence and inclusion of A.I. in writing books, and it's already here. In case you missed the slew of articles on the subject back in February, there were already over 200 books published on Amazon that list ChatGPT, the A.I. software, as a co-author. And that number was steadily climbing. Everything from Children's books to self help books on how to use AI to write books has been churned out into the mass market machine. Amazon now has a sub category for ChatGPT written books that can be used as a category listing.

It is impossible to know how many books on Amazon are currently using A.I. written material because those 200+ authors were the honest ones.

Now the reactions are mixed mainly because most of the articles that cover this subject are focusing on this mindset of people wading in with A.I. written books to turn a quick buck. If you've been in the business for any length of time, you understand that even the most successful authors have obscene overhead. There is a great deal of time, energy, skill, and honestly, a hard dose of luck for books that take off. From authors who manage to published a book every few months, to pumping a great deal of money and time into marketing, to those who hit the right audience at the right time with the right boost from word of mouth (yes Booktok is word of mouth). Those indie authors who do take off have invested in their image, in the editing of their writing, in the cover art and many don't break even for months or years. On top of that, once you do start making money, here in the U.S. the tax on successful authors is obscene.

So, will A.I. make you a quick buck? Is this the side hustle answer authors have been looking for? What is interesting is some people approach A.I. from the prospective of finally achieving their dream of being a published author. One article featured Brett Schickler, a salesman from Rochester, NY who saw A.I. as a means to an end.

The idea of writing a book finally seemed possible. I thought 'I can do this.'

Schickler used the ChatGPT to produce a 30 page children's book in a matter of hours, complete with A.I. rendered illustrations. The Wise Little Squirrel was a story about saving and investing and Schickler put it up for sale for 2.99 with a paperback edition for 9.99. His story at the time of the article netted him less than $100 but it inspired him to do more stories. Schickler states he could see a whole career out of this.

Is Schickler a real author? Authors already have a difficult time justifying the title of author attached to their name. If you write, you are a writer. How many stories or books to you need to publish before you are considered legit? Where does that legitimacy fall when 'authors' are publishing fully A.I. written books?

The crux of the argument is that 'authors' are using ChatGPT as a tool to write, however, if the entire book is being churned out by the A.I. system, is the human element absent? ChatGPT copies and spits out an amalgamation of writing styles fed to its program, but is there any quality to the writing itself? Does it possess any textual nuance or emotional context or is it so much white noise? Is an author using ChatGPT to supplement chunks of their writing 'cheating'? These are the current debates in play. Will the traditional industry ever embrace authors who use ChatGPT or will there be more stringent gate keeping than ever?

If you didn't know, many sci fi and fantasy online magazines are already seeing submissions of AI generated stories and the quality difference is obvious. A.I. generated stories aren't quite at the level of flooding the trad market YET, but machines learn fast. And that's the problem.

For indies, authors already have a mountain to climb when it comes to being finding an audience amid the white noise and the flood of poorly written AI books only makes it that much harder. Indie has risen because it embraced themes, tropes, and ideas that traditional publishing over looked or didn't take a chance on, and authors were not held to the slow publishing process that traditionally published books were. But that didn't mean readers didn't hold indie authors to similar expectations.

When it comes to ChatGPT and the get rich quick schemes, its really going to come down to readers. Will consumers prove tolerant to quantity over quality if the material is passable? Arguably, they may be the crux to tip the market back in the favor of authors. Will readers balk at their favorite genres being produced by A.I.? If the emotions aren't authentic, they might be the gauge the dials back the incursion, but only time will tell.

Resources & Further Reading

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