I didn’t write a book to make money off it. Would it be nice? Yes. Would I love to write full-time and be able to support my family with my writing? Unequivocally, yes. But that was not why I started writing No Heart for a Thief.
Since I found writing through poetry in college, it has been my touchstone—the thing in my life that helps me recenter and find myself. I love creating stories and sharing them with people. It makes me feel human in a way that few things can. Ironically, this thing that I do in the isolation of my own head is my connection point with the world.
I want to share stories with people.
There are ways to do that without selling books, but I wanted to make something that I could be proud of through and through. I wanted to invest the time and money into making a novel that I believed in from the cover to the words on the page, and that investment is not cheap. The reason I sell my book is to fund my ability to share more books.
However, since I start on the path of hiring my first editor and cover artist, the work of being an author has largely turned into the work of marketing and selling my book. Writing Malitu Books Two and Three has been pushed aside many times to work on getting No Heart for a Thief into reader’s hands.
Once it became a business for me, I had to start making business decisions and navigating a world that I knew little about. Some of the people that I hired have become friends and major supporters. Others have been great business partners. However, the first person I hired to make the cover of No Heart for a Thief lied to me about who they were, claimed other people’s art in their portfolio, and did an awful job. I had one editor block me on Fiverr after taking my money.
This is not a blog to complain about the difficulties of navigating the bad actors trying to make a quick buck off authors. They exist and it can be devastating when it happens to you.
This is a blog about how when you introduce money into art, people will come for the money and forget the art. The most dangerous of which are not the odd scammer or the editor that doesn’t live up to their claimed qualifications.
Whether you are an aspiring author, an indie author, or a traditionally published author, the publishing industry is designed in a way to profit off of your creative pursuits every step of the way. And it’s not the cover artists, the editors, the agents, or the marketing team that is making the money. The biggest sucks on the ability of artist to create and generate a living off their art are large corporations like Amazon and the Big 5 publishers.
All of this is a long path to get to the point that there is a up and coming threat to artists and writers. AI programs that generate visual and written art are getting more and more sophisticated. AND THEY ARE CHEAP. Corporations will be able to generate more profit by replacing illustrators, editors, and authors with AI. So they will, and they are going to do so by feeding our work into their algorithms.
This is the reason you will never see me use an AI generated piece of are on a cover, a bookmark, an ad, or a social media post. I used one for a twitter post when I first heard about Midjourney, then I found out how the program learn to make that art. Never again. The more we normalize using these programs to save ourselves from paying artists, the more we empower corporations to start outsourcing art to AI programs.
At this point in the blog, I have to admit this is an opinion that comes from a place of privilege. I make enough money to invest in paying artists and editors. I have no idea what is going on in an author’s life or in their pocket. So, I do not say any of this to chastise authors who make the decision to use AI art. I say this as a warning.
If companies can find a way to not pay artists they will. We saw it with the #DisneyMustPay scandal in which they stopped paying authors’ royalties because they thought they could get away with it. We see it today, as the Writer’s Guild of America strikes. The production companies are refusing to put clauses in contracts regarding the use of AI, and they are suggesting the strike is a perfect time to try AI generated content.
Now, I am not a fool. AI generated content is not going anywhere. It is going to improve to the point where it can create art that is beautiful in all the ways we have seen before. It might not be innovative, but a lot of art isn’t necessarily innovative.
The question for me isn’t whether or not AI art, books, and tv shows will be good. The question for me is whether I want to live in a world in which we outsource our creativity to make more time for profit-driven-labor.
There are people that say AI is a tool, and I believe it can be once artists are protected from the repercussions of that tool. However, right now, there are too many rich people interested in having AI normalized without any supports in place for the artists whose work it is copying from.
I think it’s a pretty solid rule that when rich people are invested in the success of a tool, it is not a tool meant for the majority of people. It is a tool meant to benefit the rich.
We have come to the end of this rant. To the indie authors, be careful when you hire editors and artists because AI will make it easier for people to claim expertise they don’t have. To the artists, your work is important, not only because it is beautiful, but because it is human. To the writing and reading communities, I love you. You are the reason why a silly thing like writing words on a piece of paper can become life affirming and life changing.