Should Authors Embrace the AI Revolution?
ChatGPT exploded onto the scene a few months ago, and I honestly don’t feel like I’m overstating things when I say that it literally changed almost everything overnight. There’s a reason why it set a record for the fastest user growth ever, hitting 100 million active users within 2 months of launch. People are finding new uses for it almost daily, and one of the most interesting (to us) is in how it can help authors.
Sure, there are negative stories about how students are using it to write essays or pass their tests, or the sky is falling type articles warning how everyone is about to lose their jobs to AI, but we can either fear change, or embrace it. The reality is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The cat is out of the bag on this, and it’s NOT going back in. AI is here to stay, and it’s only going to grow from here.
So if we’re smart, we’ll find ways to use it that enhance our writing and marketing. Ginger has a couple of examples of that here today, and we’re going to be bringing you plenty more in the weeks to come.
In the last few months, the headlines have been filled with stories about ChatGPT – a conversational artificial intelligence model that can produce startlingly lifelike written content from just a short prompt. It’s free (for now, at least) and already being adopted by all sorts of businesses to help them create content that was once written by human beings.
Understandably, that has the human beings who used to be paid to produce this content a little worried!
But is Artificial Intelligence a legitimate threat to writers? And, if so, how long will it take before we start feeling the impact?
What is ChatGPT?
In November of 2022, San Francisco-based research laboratory OpenAI launched a “chatbot” called ChatGPT – which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer. It uses a “deep learning” of written content freely available on the Internet to produce human-like text based on a user-inputted prompt. This can range from answering simple questions in the same way SIRI or Google’s assistant does, to writing essays, paragraphs, and even poetry based on a user’s input.
If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you should do so. The content it produces is astonishingly lucid – frighteningly so, perhaps!
In just a few seconds, ChatGPT can generate articles and blog posts that seem startlingly well-written, all from a few words entered in as a prompt. I’ll give some examples below, but it’s an experience worth trying yourself. You can do so by clicking here. ChatGPT is free to access once you’ve registered with an email address – just be warned that because of popular demand, the interface isn’t always accessible the first time you visit the website.
I first started poking around with ChapGPT when I saw posts on Facebook by writers using it to craft blurbs for their books. Blurbs are a notoriously difficult thing to write, especially (ironically) for the authors who wrote the original book. It’s a specialized skill – one so specialized that many authors pay to have someone like me write them instead!
Understandably, I wanted to check out ChatGPT to make sure it wasn’t going to be posing any competition!
And the verdict? Well, I don’t think I need to hang up my keyboard yet, but I’m surprised at how effective the results of ChatGPT already are.
Using ChatGPT to write blurbs
I first experimented with ChatGPT by getting it to re-write the blurb to one of my books. It’s not that this book needed to have its blurb re-written – it’s bloody good, even if I do say so myself! But I wanted to see if the program could actually produce anything even close to being useable.
And the result? Well, I’ll let you judge that for yourself.
The blurb is for the first book in my MC romance series, written under a female penname. Here is the current version, written by yours truly (and I’m not a robot, I promise!)
When crooked cops murdered my father, I hid with the only people even they’re afraid of: The Knuckleheads Motorcycle Club.
But the legendary biker gang has a rule – Nobody Rides for Free – so I’ve had to pay for their protection with the only thing of value I still have left: My body.
For months now, I’ve been living as the Knucklehead’s submissive little biker slut – but everything changed when HE showed up: Mason Stone.
Mason is a tall, brooding badass who seems so different from the rest of these uncouth, horny bikers.
He ruined me.
With one kiss, Mason reminded me what it’s like to be alive again. Now, I can never go back to the way things were.
But if I’d thought escaping the men who killed my father was dangerous, it’s nothing compared to cutting ties with the towering, tattooed leader of the Knuckleheads MC: Coyle.
Especially since Mason has a secret of his own – and when Coyle finds out about it, he’ll make sure we’re left with No Way Out.
No Way Out is the steamy, action-packed first-installment of the Knuckleheads MC series. You’ll be hooked from the first page – and every book that follows!No Way Out by Simone Scarlet
I then asked ChatGPt to write a blurb for the same book. However, this is where it gets tricky. ChatGPT can’t work from nothing – it needs input. The words you enter into the chat box, your prompt, determine what you’re going to get out of it. That’s why I was surprised with what ChatGPT came up with when I entered this question into it:
Write the blurb for an MC romance novel called No Way Out, featuring a heroine called Christi and a hero called Mason Stone.
That was all I entered. Nothing else. Here is the result:
Get ready to be swept away by the steamy and dangerous world of the motorcycle club in No Way Out.
Christi, on the run from those who killed her father, finds refuge with the notorious Knuckleheads MC. With a rule of ‘Nobody Rides for Free’, she must pay for her protection with her body.
But everything changes when she meets Mason Stone, a tall, brooding biker with a mysterious past. One kiss from Mason ignites a passion within Christi, reminding her what it’s like to feel alive.
However, their love is put to the test when Mason’s secrets come to light, putting both their lives at risk and leaving them with No Way Out.
Join Christi and Mason on their unforgettable journey in this thrilling MC romance.
Remarkably, it’s pretty much a mutilated version of my real-life blurb. At first, I thought it was basically just doing a poor job of plagiarizing my existing work, sort of like one kid copying another kid’s homework. After all, I hadn’t provided any of those facts about my book (like that she was on the run from those that killed her father) so it couldn’t have just randomly conjured up the same info. Then I realized what was going on. The prompt I gave it was super specific, not just in giving the book title, but in providing the character names.
We have to remember that ChatGPT isn’t a “blurb writer”, it’s many things, as I mentioned above. So, for example, if I asked it to “Summarize the movie Jaws”, it would do just that – search it’s knowledge for a movie called Jaws and provide me a summary of the movie. My prompt had likely been vague enough that when it searched through it’s knowledge base and found a match of an existing book called “No Way Out” with the exact character names mentioned in the original blurb (Christi and Mason Stone) it just figured I was looking for it to summarize that existing story. To test that theory, I fed it the same prompt but simply changed the character names so it wouldn’t find a match.
Write the blurb for an MC romance novel called No Way Out, featuring a heroine called Natalie and a hero called Rockford Hart.
As expected, it now generated a completely different and more unique blurb.
In “No Way Out,” the electrifying new MC romance novel by bestselling author [insert author name], Natalie is a woman on the run, seeking refuge from a dangerous past. When she arrives in the small town of Clearwater, she never expects to cross paths with Rockford Hart, the ruggedly handsome leader of the local motorcycle club.
Rockford has seen his fair share of trouble and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty to protect what’s his. But when he meets Natalie, he realizes that he may have met his match. There’s something about her that draws him in, and despite her reluctance to get involved with anyone, he’s determined to break down her walls.
As their passion heats up, Natalie and Rockford find themselves caught in the middle of a dangerous turf war between rival motorcycle clubs. With no way out, they must rely on each other to survive. But when Natalie’s past catches up with her, Rockford will have to risk everything to save the woman he loves.
“No Way Out” is a thrilling, high-stakes romance that will leave you breathless. Will Natalie and Rockford be able to overcome the obstacles in their path and find a way to be together? You’ll have to read to find out.
This version was written better than its first attempt, but completely irrelevant to my story. It even made up a fictional town and added in some (fairly generic) plot points. I will admit, though, that I was particularly impressed by how it worked the title of the book into the plot it came up with (in the third paragraph).
What I wanted, though, was a blurb that was relevant to my story but better than what it had first given me, so this time I tried again by asking ChatGPT to rewrite the actual blurb of my story:
please rewrite this as the blurb for a book: When crooked cops murdered my father, I hid with the only people even they’re afraid of: The Knuckleheads Motorcycle Club. But the legendary biker gang has a rule – Nobody Rides for Free – so I’ve had to pay for their protection with the only thing of value I still have left: My body. For months now, I’ve been living as the Knucklehead’s submissive little biker slut – but everything changed when HE showed up: Mason Stone. Mason is a tall, brooding badass who seems so different from the rest of these uncouth, horny bikers. He ruined me. With one kiss, Mason reminded me what it’s like to be alive again. Now, I can never go back to the way things were. But if I’d thought escaping the men who killed my father was dangerous, it’s nothing compared to cutting ties with the towering, tattooed leader of the Knuckleheads MC: Coyle. Especially since Mason has a secret of his own – and when Coyle finds out about it, he’ll make sure we’re left with No Way Out. No Way Out is the steamy, action-packed first-installment of the Knuckleheads MC series. You’ll be hooked from the first page – and every book that follows!
This was what ChatGPT produced:
Discover the dangerous world of the Knuckleheads Motorcycle Club in No Way Out, the steamy first installment of the Knuckleheads MC series.
When crooked cops take the life of her father, our heroine finds refuge with the notorious biker gang, but at a price – her body. That is until she meets Mason Stone, a brooding bad boy who reignites her passions and threatens to unravel a web of secrets.
With the threat of the gang’s leader, Coyle, always looming, they must fight to survive and keep their love alive in a world where there’s No Way Out.
I’m not going to lie – it’s not a horrible blurb. It reads a bit weirdly, and it’s certainly not as evocative as my original blurb (even if I say so myself) but it does set the story up and tease at the upcoming conflict. That’s the sort of thing that a writer could absolutely use as a base to edit into their own blurb.
What’s effective about it is the structure. It’s got that strong first sentence to introduce the series, then two sentences which introduce the characters, and finally introduces the conflict and even wraps it up using “No Way Out” to end the final sentence, but in a different way to how I’d used it. Structurally, it’s actually a solid blurb – and that’s because it comes from ChatGPT reading thousands (millions?) of other blurbs and identifying a structure among the most influential of them. Even though the syntax doesn’t work, there’s something to be learned from how ChatGPT writes a blurb.
Even if it’s just in the form of inspiration, it’s possible to see that ChatGPT could provide some value to an author if they’re struggling to write their own blurbs. At the same time, though, I don’t think it’s ready to put blurb-writers like me out of a job quite yet.
Using ChatGPT to write social media posts
The other challenge I posted for ChatGPT was to generate some Tweets for my MC romance series. This is the sort of stuff that a lot of self-published authors struggle with, so I wondered if ChatGPT could do some of the heavy lifting. I used the following prompt:
Please write some tweets to promote my MC romance series featuring the Knuckleheads Motorcycle Club.
Here is what ChatGPT returned seconds later:
1: “Get ready to be swept away by the dangerous and steamy world of the #KnuckleheadsMC in #NoWayOut! 🔥 #MCromance at its best 💋 #bookstagram”
2: “Fierce bikers, passionate romance, and thrilling danger – it’s all in the first installment of the #KnuckleheadsMC series! #NoWayOut 💥 #MCromance #booknerd”
3: “Fall in love with the brooding bad boy, Mason Stone, and the strong heroine who finds refuge with the #KnuckleheadsMC in #NoWayOut 💔 #MCromance #booklover”
4: “Experience the adrenaline-fueled world of the legendary #KnuckleheadsMC and their fight for love in #NoWayOut! A must-read for all #MCromance fans 🔥 #bookish”
5: “Unleash your inner biker babe and join the dangerous ride with the #KnuckleheadsMC in #NoWayOut! 🏍️ #MCromance #bookworm #romancereader”
Surprisingly, these are actually usable. If you paired them with some good graphics, they’re absolutely serviceable as Tweets or Instagram captures. Perhaps #3 reads a little goofy, but the others are very similar to the content I see real, live humans posting to promote their books; and ChatGPT even included hashtags and emojis!
What else could you use ChatGPT for?
Blurbs and tweets are all very well, but could ChatGPT be used for other things? Up to an including writing a book? That’s certainly what a lot of people are beginning to believe, as demonstrated by AI writing services like NovelAI, Sudowrite and Jasper. That being said, I’m not quite ready to believe us real-life authors have anything to be worried about… yet.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a LOT of value here for us. This technology is going to change the way we write and produce content. In fact, for many authors, it already is… at the very least, you owe it to yourself to try it out (if you haven’t already) and experiment. See if there are ways you can find to put it to work for you.
And keep watching this blog and our podcast, as we will have plenty more to say about this topic very soon. This is not some new fad that authors should ignore, as there is just too much value to be had and it’s only going to get better and more interested from here!