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Am I Afraid of AI?

A lot of authors and artists are stressing out about people using AI to produce books, and flooding the market, drowning them out of future sales. I'm not.

First, the market is already flooded with self-published books as is. Doubling or even tripling the volume isn't going to make a lick of difference. If you're not getting noticed now, then nothing is really going to change. If you are getting noticed, people are going to follow you - the author - as opposed to someone (or something) that, supposedly, writes just like you. Oh, and for you types that marvel over stories about fairies and trolls written in the style of Hemingway? Well, I've seen those stories and I hate to break it to you: that's not how Hemmingway writes. Sorry. It doesn't even resemble his style. "But the AI is only going to get better! Why, in ten years, the AI {insert pie in the sky prediction here}"

Blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Sure.

The fact is that storytelling is a craft that has to be learned and applied. All AI does is take patterns it can find and apply them to what it knows. It doesn't work well with unknowns. Plus - and I emphasize this again - people don't follow book styles. They follow authors who write in a certain way about a specific set of subjects. Authors, who can sign their book, inform their fans about what kind of jeans they prefer to wear, and give them updates on the status of their pet. That ain't going to change.

The dirty little secret is: writing a book is relatively easy. Selling a book is hard. Yeah, with AI, you can produce a book for next to nothing. But then you have to convince people to buy the darned thing, and that's where the wave hits the breakers. AI ain't going to go on interviews or book signings. AI isn't going to run advertisements for you or pay for them. Moreover, because you cannot - at present - copyright your AI-generated work, you really can't prevent an AI from generating the same exact story for someone else to sell.

As it stands right now, the difference between someone like me (who has literally sold hundreds of books in a year and a half) and your average self-published author (who sells maybe a dozen books a year) is the fact that I'm promoting my stuff non-stop.

Selling a book actually requires a lot of work. A lot of work over a long period of time. How many instant authors are up for the sales game, when they didn't even bother to put in the work to write something special and unique? I'm sure it gets easier once you make a name for yourself. That could take a decade or more. Then, there's the pressure to deliver a story that was as good as last one. How are you going to recreate the experience of your last book, when you never even learned how to do it in the first place? Even experienced authors stress over that sort of scenario. I know I do. Is this book going to be as good as the last one? Am I giving my fans what they want? I know what I want to write, but I'm always doubting my ability...and that's with me knowing how I wrote things the last time around! Needless to say, I haven't gone into full-on panic mode over AI. I'm going to do what I've done twice already. I may stumble but I'll learn from it. Can one say the same of the AI you used to make that book? Probably not. The AI really has no skin in the game when it comes to your success. You, however, do.

Don't try to take shortcuts. Put in the work. You'll be better for it.

(And, no, I didn't use ChatGPT to write this article)

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