In my on-going analysis of all the mean things people said on Twitter about my AI Lore books, I wanted to drill down on a specific category which I feel is of special importance.
Of the 259 quote tweets I managed to pull out of Nitter (out of close to 700 total, which I wasn’t able to scrape in their entirety), this is the breakdown analyzing the different types of complaints, and their counts. This is not an exhaustive list, but cherry-picked because of the theme I want to highlight: defense of the great lumbering behemoth and font of injustice that is the modern publishing industry. I also don’t 100% trust the accuracy of Claude’s results, so this is merely included as a conversation starter, and not necessarily a perfect explanation of available data.
Coming in at fourth place in the complaint set analyzed:
This devalues actual authors and writing – 25 tweets (9.65%)
And in 10th place:
This floods the market with junk – 9 tweets (3.47%)
The future of books/publishing is at stake – 2 tweets (0.77%)
Now, none of these complaints come right out and say it, but I got a very strong sense going through the many reactions people have expressed that one of the things they actually mean by all of this is that AI books are a threat to the publishing industry.
I don’t happen to agree (I think they can be a boon to it), but let’s unpack this a little more. I think I went into it already, but the professional publishing industry has dramatically reduced in terms of number of players over these past decades. Such that there are now what, 4 or 5 big houses in the US, and all their imprints.
And you as an author cannot get into that small closed world unless you are already known through having developed a ‘platform’ of prior works and social media presence. You must be a known commodity. Is that the model small authors are subconsciously defending here? Cause I hope not…
This leaves only the vast wasteland that is self-publishing as an alternative. If you’re not a known commodity, it’s no problem for you to publish basically anything you want in any way you want. Does social media count as self-publishing? Cause almost everyone does that right?
But the trick is, you can publish anything you want, just nobody will read it. Or five or ten people will read it, and you’ll make back a quarter of your actual costs if you’re lucky, and never recoup the time investment you put into it.
So, is that the model indie writers feel is threatened by AI-assisted books? Cause that doesn’t sound like something much worth defending either.
The fact is, the publishing industry as it currently stands is not something that I think is worth defending in any shape or form, let alone by writers. Writers, that is, who are routinely getting the short end of the stick in both the worlds of conventional publishing, and in self-publishing (where it seems like every other finger in the pie is getting a bigger piece of the profits than the author).
I frankly don’t get it – why authors flock to defend the layers of exploitation that ride on their work. Maybe they think there’s no other way.
The other con that I think has been foisted on creative people is that social media is a good way to spend your creative energy, and that if you don’t participate, you will be miserable. As a creative person, I think it’s the opposite, if you participate, you can guarantee that you will be miserable. It saps your ability to create, because it saps your ability to hear your own voice, and find your own creative vision clearly, amidst all the clamor and chaos and people who want you to not do whatever it is you are doing or not doing.
As a result, I think people end up believing that in order to “succeed” in self-publishing (which, let’s be real – usually means like selling 10 copies), you have to continuously bathe in the cesspool of social media to get anybody to hear you, and spread yourself thin maintaining feeds on different platforms. I know that shit drives everyone fucking crazy who is involved with it, so why defend that either as a necessary or desirable path for writers and artists?
I don’t buy it. I don’t buy into any of it. There are other ways of being; blogs never died.