I was browsing the Kindle store after an audiobook I was listening to caught my interest enough to grab an ebook copy. It was on writing and boy was I surprised when I saw the most popular alternative suggestions.
From one of those ebooks on using ChatGPT to write fiction:
In the short time I’ve used ChatGPT to write fiction, I’ve learned more about the craft, dug deeper into plots, characters, and themes than I ever had the time to do before, and finished projects that I never thought I would because of lack of time or skill. [emphasis mine]
Can you really call it your creative work when you admit that it’s something you lack the skill to produce on your own?
Regardless, Pandora opened the box. The Kindle store will soon be full of these things—some might even be good!—and with few exceptions human-crafted novels will be pushed down the rankings into obscurity.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the traditional publishers embraced it as a way to create more profit. Pushing their authors to use it in order to turn out more best sellers more quickly. They already have stables of ghost writers writing under bestseller authors’ names. Like James Patterson. There won’t be much difference, will there?
Have you read any of the novels created by AI? They are complete gibberish. Fixing one would take more time than just writing one. No, the real issue is the amount of refuse that Amazon has to block every day. Amazon eventually removes them, but not before they take up page views and bestselling slots.
I think, instead, what these publishers will do is embrace the fact that they have real support people to do the work of editing and marketing and leverage that to in essence try to return to a time before self-publishing. They will market the fact that AI isn’t used in any way and try to get readers to trust them to only put out “good” books.
Honestly that is a scarier scenario than if they did try to use AI. I am not sure I want to return to a time when book publishers could gatekeep the industry.
No, and I won’t read one by choice. No doubt sometime in the future when the AI software gets beyond the gibberish beginnings I won’t be able to tell if it is or isn’t. At which point even if it’s labeled as being purely human-written, could you believe them?
Case in point? Tor Publishing Group went ahead with AI generated book cover for a new Paolini novel despite protests. “Due to production constraints, we have decided to move ahead with our current cover.”
I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see them holding back once AI storytelling is up to snuff, with cost-effective editing requirements.
The thing is, traditional publishers don’t want an author to turn out too many novels too closely together and flood the market, putting out books before the typical reader had finished one and was ready for another — that was why Steven King had to publish as Richard Bachman.
This is something that does work with self-publishing. You hook the reader with a deal on your first book, but you have to have the entire trilogy out there first to do so. Too many writers haven’t completed their series first, so they don’t sell as readers don’t want to take the chance that it won’t be finished.
Thank you Patrick Rothfuss and George R.R. Martin…
It was Robert Jordan who gets my thanks for that. Martin explicitly promised not to do a Jordan… good thing I lost interest after book 3 (I no longer cared what happened to any of the remaining characters).
The current danger (for me) is the literally endless series. Lots of indies do this in order to milk a popular series. If I see a series with more than six or so books I give it a pass. No different from an unfinished series. I like to experience true endings.
In Robert’s defense he did die—it wasn’t laziness. And he set up Brandon Sanderson to take over the series with detailed notes. The others just suck. In full disclosure, I also lost interest after about four or five books.
As a counterpoint here, Steven Brust is finally winding down his Dragaera novels, which I first encountered in a point-of-presence display in a Waldenbooks when I was a teenager — 17 books (one for each Dragaeran House), plus Taltos, and The Last Contract (as well as divertissements such as Brokedown Palace, and the Paarfi Romances (written in the style of Alexandre Dumas), The Phoenix Guards, (a re-telling of The Three Musketeers) et. al., including the recent The Baron of Magister Valley (a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo which was to some degree informed by The Black Count).
Popular enough to get a mention in The Penny Arcade webcomic:
That’s something one cannot avoid, but before that he had his books wander far from course, adding new character after new character and giving these people I cared nothing about viewpoint chapters. While at the same time devaluing the original main characters. Rand Al’thor only had a single short chapter in one of the volumes, I forget which (the 8th?) (and they were huge books, over 800 pages each).
So diminished was the putative protagonist, the “Dragon Reborn”, that they could re-envision the story for TV using an important but relatively minor side character (debatable) as replacement protagonist, one who completely disappeared halfway through the series.