Back in the day, writers used to write books with a quill. Then came the pen, then the pencil, then the typewriter, then the computer, and now … artificial intelligence (AI)? As writers, it’s normal to have a lot of questions as AI, mainly ChatGPT, comes to the forefront of our writer minds. Can AI write books? Should I use AI to write my book? What about some of my book? What are the larger implications of using AI to write for me? As a hybrid publisher, we have thoughts. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of using AI for book writing.
Our Stance on Using AI for Book Writing
Before we delve into the pros and cons of using AI for book writing, we want to be clear about our stance as a publisher. Publish Your Purpose is a hybrid publisher of nonfiction books that seek to make a difference in the world. We empower thought leaders, professionals, and visionaries to write books to spread their ideas to others. Writing a book is a challenging, yet rewarding, process—and we believe in that process. Using AI to cut corners, in our view, only cheats the writer of the full experience of being an author, and as we’ll outline in our “cons” section, poses risks for future copyright infringement that we can’t predict at this time.
For this reason, we do not accept manuscripts that have been written with the help of AI. If you wrote it yourself, submit your manuscript here.
Yet, as you’ll see (when you keep reading), there are instances where using ChatGPT can be immensely helpful for other tasks, including producing promotional material for your book, and regular social media content, especially if you are working on a tight budget and deadline. So, let’s delve into these pros and cons.
Where AI Is Right Now
AI is rapidly improving, so we don’t blame you if you aren’t up to speed on its current capabilities. To help you better understand this article, here’s a quick summary of AI right now: ChatGPT is a language processing tool created by OpenAI that can help users with a wide variety of tasks from writing essays to creating code. The newest version of ChatGPT (GPT-4) is highly intelligent; it was able to pass the bar exam in the 90th percentile. It’s not the only AI development that’s getting buzz right now—Microsoft released their AI-powered integration with the search engine Bing, which uses an upgraded version of ChatGPT, and Google launched a competitor called Bard. AI is officially being integrated into the way we search, communicate, and do business.
Can AI Write Books?
The short answer: Yes, they can. AI has advanced to a degree that allows it to create readable, passable content that with the right prompts can be used to write a full-length book. The question becomes: Should I use AI to write my book? We don’t think you should, but here are the pros and cons.
Pros of Using AI for Book Writing
Useful For Supplementary Materials
There are certain scenarios where ChatGPT can significantly cut down the time and costs it requires to market your book. Let’s say you wrote your book (on your own, or by hiring a human ghostwriter), and are ready to publish it. To promote your book, you will need a solid book description, and you might need daily Instagram posts to keep up engagement with your audience before the launch date. This can be time-consuming and expensive. But, with a few well-designed prompts in ChatGPT, you could have this content fairly quickly.
Cuts Audiobook Production Costs
If you want to turn your book into an audiobook down the line, AI might be able to significantly speed up the process. AI voice learning has improved a lot since the robotic Siri voices first appeared on our iPhones. Now the cadence, rhythm, and natural pauses of AI voices are getting scary good (think: Her, the movie). At some point soon, authors will be able to just send their manuscript over to an AI system to convert it into audiobook form.
But… voice acting (like writing a book) is an art form. So, this brings up a whole other can of worms. Do we want AI to be replacing human creative expression? AI can help automate certain tasks, but should we draw the line at art itself? Something to think about…
What are your thoughts on AI and creativity? Leave us a note, we want to know!
Speak to anyone who has written a book and they’ll tell you that writer’s block kills. Hours staring at blank screens, tears falling onto keyboards, desperate screams into the abyss. Theoretically, AI solves this. If you’re able to come up with an idea but unable to think of what to write next, you can write a prompt into ChatGPT and it can help you get started. Maybe you won’t use verbatim what ChatGPT produces, but you’ll be inspired by something they write, and it might spark another idea from you.
Let’s say you have a ton of ideas and writer’s block isn’t affecting you, but you’re struggling to organize it all. ChatGPT can help you find a flow between all of your ideas. Again, this is tricky because that’s also something a talented (human) editor can help you with. But if you’re on a really quick turnaround, or in a pickle, you might be able to get some quick relief from AI.
Cons of Using AI for Book Writing
Big Risk of Plagiarism
The biggest concern for using AI for book writing is the risk of plagiarism. Right now, ChatGPT pulls source material from the internet at large to generate a response, but there’s no real way to know exactly where the source material comes from. So, if you ask ChatGPT to write a book chapter, it’s pulling information to write it, but we can’t find out from where. This poses a huge copyright problem because we can’t find out who owns the copyright of the material that was used to write the content. There are already some lawsuits happening as I write this (yes, me, a human) that are figuring out the complex copyright rules of AI writing.
It’s The Wild West Out There
Another big problem is that no one’s going to know what the repercussions of using AI for book writing will be until years down the road. You might be able to get your book together fine now, but once it’s time to publish it, publishing markets like Amazon or Barnes and Noble might come up with an AI flagging system that prevents it from hitting shelves.
An Example of Flagging by Amazon
We have a related example: In 2017, in one of the first books we published, we had an excerpt from a letter that we thought was in the public domain. We had properly sourced it, but when we went to load the book into Amazon directly, Amazon flagged it as a misuse of content, because it was pulled directly word for word and exceeded a character limit we weren’t aware of. So, on launch day Amazon suppressed our title.
Could this happen with AI-generated content? Do you want to risk inadvertently plagiarizing someone else’s work and truly having no idea? Even if you modify the text that ChatGPT generates for you, there’s still that risk that it is too close to the source material and shouldn’t be used. And there just isn’t any reasonable way for authors at this phase of AI to know how to protect themselves from a legal standpoint. The last thing you want to do is get yourself sued because you’re using improper information.
Your Writing Could Be Used Without Permission or Credit
You also need to keep in mind that when you post something inside of ChatGPT to generate content, that then becomes a part of their ecosystem of content that can be used to make future content. So, for example, if you upload your entire manuscript into ChatGPT and ask them to write a book summary, your book can then be used to answer other users’ questions! And you won’t get credited.
What if two people type the same prompt into ChatGPT and both use and publish the content? Would this show up as duplicate content on Google, and would your content be flagged for SEO and penalized? Who is the copyright owner of that work? Because there’s so much we don’t know about AI, it’s a good idea to proceed cautiously.
A Case For Human Art
AI is a tool, and in certain cases, a very useful one. It can be used to help you apply for jobs more easily, it can help you get out of writer’s block by helping you spark new ideas, and yes, it can write an entire book for you.
But, should you use AI to write your book? We don’t think you should.
It’s helpful to take a step back and think about why you are writing a book in the first place. Part of what makes books so powerful is their uniqueness: Two people can’t write the same book, because they have different life experiences, different writing styles, and are complex human beings. Two AI can write the same book, and if we all use AI to write our books, the world of books—the quality and uniqueness, the thing that makes it art—will suffer.
And no, we did not use AI to help us write this article. But yes, we thought about it. It’s always there—and yes, it’s tempting.