I started publishing in 2008 under the name Zoe Winters back during the Great Ebook Debate. Ebooks were going to destroy literature as we knew it! Ebooks weren’t real books! No “real author” was published that way. No one will ever read on a screen! “I” will never read on a screen! (I, personally don’t read ebooks, but I don’t really read print books either. I’m an audio girl and that’s a whole other debate over whether or not I’m “really reading”).
Ebooks were going to replace print books! No one paused to wonder how on earth if they weren’t “real books” and “no one would ever read on a screen” how they were supposed to replace print books. It was just a lot of panic and fury.
Now, here in 2023, print books are still quite popular and when I see Bookstagrammers and Booktokkers they are always showing pictures of all their real physical books and holding them in their hands. (I’ve also recently found a place where I can have special edition books made… like raised lettering, gold foil, all that fancy stuff that you see in a bookstore. I’m super excited about these possibilities!)
Imagine if I had said the same things about digital publishing? I would have missed a huge opportunity and I wouldn’t be an author today. I see the AI fight as very similar. It’s another hugely disruptive technology to several industries and there are two ways to look at it… like Chicken Little or like Willy Wonka (you know, with wonder, and a dark sense of humor and shit.)
So this is going to be a post about AI. I prefer to look at AI much the way I looked at the ebook revolution, as an opportunity, or many opportunities. Joanna Penn has a similar tech-optimist perspective. Look, we all know bad things will be done with AI, just like with every other technology, but the tech is here and it’s not going away. It’s my opinion we should learn to work with it instead of against it with our moral outrage fluttering.
I have a LOT of opinions about AI in all the different ways it exists, but this blog post would be the length of a novel if I tried to talk about all of it. So today, I want to talk about the funny side of generative text AI.
Before I get into that I will say I do not have a smart phone. I hate smart phones. I can be a MAJOR Luddite about some things. But then on the other side I’m like… “oooh AI, let’s explore this.” So I’m a giant contradiction of a person. But that was true when the Kindle first came out. I’m just grateful my Tech-embracing side, rather than my Luddite “Screw you, Smart Phone” side is in the driver’s seat when it comes to my career.
Okay… so here’s what I really wrote this blog post to say:
I’m working on re-writing some blurb copy for one of my books, The Monster Keeps Me Safe, so I decided to experiment with CopyAI. I do think if those mad or scared about AI in whatever category that affects them personally would take a look at it and play with it a bit, they would find that the robots are FAR from taking over (even in audio, but that’s a whole other post). They might also see ways they can personally capitalize on these tools for their own work.
A great example would be narrators. The BEST AI is going to be copying real narrator voices. Places like DeepZen license these voices and pay narrators a fee every time their voice is used. Before, narrators had a ceiling on what they could make because they were working per hour. No matter how many hours you work, there is a cap on what you can make. But if you licensed your voice for something like this? The sky isn’t even the limit.
So anyway, I’m rambling, the idea with generative text AI, is that you feed the AI some text and it spits out some options back to you. I will say that I wouldn’t ever use AI in whole to write even marketing copy because the entire point of art is… well… art. And I’m definitely in it for the art. Even though marketing copy isn’t technically “the art”.
One of the things that has held me back is that I’ve treated EVERYTHING like the art. The title, the cover, the blurb, all the things, and all that is marketing. Yes book covers are art, but… they are also marketing packaging, and they aren’t MY art. My art is the story.
So here are some funny things the AI spit out:
For reference, the first time I gave the AI a description of the book, and it gave me this (Note, the name Hugo appears nowhere in my book. The AI just gave him that name):
The world has ended. That is what Elodie believes when she finds herself living in an abandoned theme park, with her husband Hugo. And then comes a dark stranger, one who will do anything to take what she loves most. A contract killer, he kills Hugo and kidnaps Elodie, taking her on a journey through his twisted mind as he tries to come to terms with the horrors that haunt him. Desperate and afraid, Elodie must trust in the unlikely hero when she discovers that the only way he can save her is by killing her too.
o.O. And you guys thought *I* wrote dark. Okay, it’s possible the AI is coming for my job. I am afraid.
Then, I input my current blurb just to see what it would spit back out at me. My current blurb (which I wrote a couple of years ago):
At some point, right before my memory clicked off, the nightmare fairy must have paid the world a visit. Everything is just… gone, a tangle of blank confusion.
And now I live in a castle. Every little girl’s dream, right? Except it’s not. It’s twisted and abandoned and fake. I’m supposed to be safe here with my husband, but how can I be safe when I don’t remember him? How can I be safe when he feels so wrong?
Then a new monster comes to take me to a new life and a new cage far from the castle and the promise of safety.
Here’s one of the things the AI gave me in response:
This is not a fairy tale. The ballrooms were never shining and the monster fairy never came to comfort the princess and make her dreams come true. This is just how it is…
Imagine having a memory that is gone. A memory that suddenly vanishes, leaving you desperate. A creature known as a fairy appeared and took your memories away. They are the ones who listen in on your deepest thoughts, images and dreams and tell others about it for a price.
Obviously the AI is not up for genuine blurb writing, though more nonfiction copy, maybe. But it can be a way to get some ideas that can be spun out into something else. I would think of it more as a brainstorming tool, though when you feel frustrated with progress, letting the AI tell you how it would write it, is kind of hilarious.
There is a book about these kinds of AI mishaps called: “You Look Like a Thing, and I Love You”.(Oh, baby, talk AI to me.) It’s on my Audible wish list.