Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Rage against the machines

I've mentioned before that I have done some experimenting with the different AI language models. Chat GPT and Google Bard (now Gemini) were actually quite helpful in rewriting my book descriptions for the Tudor Court series. It's not something I talk about to openly, because the writing community on social media is heavily weighted against the use of AI. 

The reasons are that it takes work from human creatives - the people who edit, provide book descriptions, design covers, etc. And don't even get them started on AI voice for audio books.

Now, I'm a creator. So I do understand where the fear is coming from, but also, these are tools, and they are only as good as the users. Would you expect a chainsaw to know how to cut down a tree if no one was holding it?

I don't mean to sound glib, but I have learned through experimentation that your results with these programs are only as good as the prompts they are given. It's not creativity in the same way as doing something from scratch, but find me a writer who likes to write a book description - a writer who can boil a 400 page book down to three paragraphs that will sell the book - and you're talking about one or two writers out of a vast number.

Where I draw the line is with actual writing. I would never let AI write a book for me - or even a portion of one - because writing is what I enjoy and what I'm good at.

One of the reasons that many of us became indie authors in the first place is that we didn't want to deal with gatekeepers, so I don't think it's right to gatekeep each other's choices when it comes to something as personal as our own business model. As they told us in school, keep your eyes on your own paper and don't worry about what someone else is doing.

And as an example of what is possible with an AI art model, this is a cover that I did for Princess of Spain, which is the newest giveaway story for readers who sign up to my newsletter. You can get it here. The prompt I gave it was this: Please create a photo realistic illustration of a middle-aged white woman in dark-colored 16th century garb standing in a chapel. The room is shadowy, there are stained glass windows. The mood is contemplative.

The collage shows some of the results it gave me before I got more specific. Most of those, while pretty, are completely unusable, but the final - or at least the place where I decided to stop - is more than good enough. It's a 10,000 word short story; I would never hire a cover designer to put a cover on a short story. I'm not going to pay $100 plus (and sometimes considerably plus) for something that I'm giving away for free. Being in indie author also means managing your finances responsibly and knowing where and when you can spend money on things.

Let me know your thoughts. We can agree to disagree, but any outright trolling on the subject will be deleted and the commenter will be blocked. We can all play nice.


Anonymous said...

Hmm. Your arguments are reasonable and persuasive. I still feel uncomfortable with the thought of AI creating anything "creative." But I will mull over what you wrote and might yet come over to your point of view.

Karen said...

I get that, and thanks for your open mind. I don't approve of asking for art "in the style of", which really feels like cheating/theft. But it's a genie that's not going back in the bottle, so I'm trying to learn to work with it.