I did a spreadsheet last night and this morning of all my AI Lore Books, along with their word counts, and number of original images in each volume.
I used 110 volumes as my number for analysis, given that the two volumes of “postcards” are just excerpts from other books (which is why they are available free at the link above). So I didn’t include them in the following counts.
So, for 110 AI-assisted volumes of lore, world-building, and flash fiction collection, I was able to produce in a hybrid manner with both human and AI-writing & AI image generation tools:
- 403,030 words
- 8,984 images
I should also note, that in my Adobe Lightroom install, I have currently saved:
- 17,426 images
I have no way of verifying the true quantity of images generated across all services (I used many different ones, especially early on), but I would estimate that I only usually download a third to one quarter of the images that are actually created during the image generation process. So perhaps a conservative guess might be like 40K images generated total, with a more probable guess being closer to 60K.
I’m not going to try to guess at all the words spewed out in chat conversations with bots over the last year. They were not all directly books related anyway, so I won’t bother. And whose words would we count, only mine, only the bots’? The two combined would maybe be better. Then what about context windows with times where I included an almost 80K word novel? Seems like a billion words would be a safe low estimate, with perhaps an upper bound likely well beyong that. It’s an unfathomably large amount of text to think about in toto. So why bother.
Anyway, I thought it useful for my own purposes to compare the above to when I wrote an 80K or so word novel (mentioned above), in approximately one year as well. And it had I think somewhere around 100 chapters. I got to that word count working probably only 1-2 hours a day at a leisurely pace. Versus, with my AI Lore books, I would say I was working like 4-6 or sometimes more hours per day often.
But between 80K words written manually in a novel-writing process, and 400K, that’s a difference of 5x increase in word count. That’s not insignificant, though obviously there are questions around quality.
It’s funny to look at this way after seeing many criticisms of my books on social media hinging around these not being “real books” because of their low individual word count (2-5K words each, occasionally more), and related criticisms being that it didn’t really increase my productivity that much.
A 5x increase in sheer output would seem to suggest otherwise. Even if I put in, let’s say 2-3x the number of hours working on it. That’s a perhaps incalculable boost to estimate with precision, but for sure it is one.
Also the people who say the books are too short (what a stupid thing to complain about, sorry – these are books of odds & ends of lore; they can be whatever length makes sense) or that I didn’t get an efficiency boost in word-count never mention that during that same amount of time I invested above, I also generated 9K images that I was able to include to help tell the stories and build out my universe (multiverse) and the aesthetics of the experience of these as interlinking hypercanvases.
In my “hand-typed” novel, I included two pieces of hand-drawn art: the cover, and a map of Quatria inside. I made many other related ink drawings, sketches, doodles that didn’t get included in that book also. I don’t know how many. Let’s say a safe estimate of 60, and a high estimate of 100+ (I did a lot of sketches in that world). But still only 2 original pieces of art in the final work (plus hand-done InDesign layouts, whatever those are worth – they took a ton of time). That’s what, an at least 4500x increase in usable finished image output. That’s absurd!
I like doing ink drawings on paper though, so I won’t say that replacing/shortening the time spent doing that pleasurable activity is necessarily a “good” outcome. But it’s been a good learning experience to see what you can do these days with AI generators as an artist, regardless.
Mostly, it makes me want to incorporate now more of the manual side again, now that I know more precisely the limitations of the AI tools (there are many).
However, without exploring these tools in the manner that I did, in a sort of iterative, and one could easily say fractal manner (I’ve also used the term hyperdimensional storytelling, which I still think fits), I never would have landed on the key structural elements of my AI Lore books that really set them apart. They are interesting because they eschew in many cases conventional narrative elements & in others actively attempt to break down traditional narrative unities. That is, there is not necessarily often an identifiable story arc, or always characters. The books “jump around” in a chaotic organic manner that is accretive, and the reader necessarily takes their own separate chaotic journey through the latent spaces carved out by the books individually, and then taken as a whole.
I would have never landed there had I continued only laboring away to pound out another “conventional” novel or novella. That would have been fine too, but here I am, and these are the lessons I have learned. No one’s approval or disapproval is able to tinge that hard won experience, or taint the actual results of the creative process that the books document.
Which is not to say that the books are for everybody. Depending on which ones you read, you might not only not like it, but you might think they are terrible. (I have anecdotal evidence to the contrary though, in that at last check, 10% of my book buyers become repeat buyers. Of that hardcore 10%, their repeat purchases make up 40% of my overall sales volume. And I don’t market to them at all. I just put my books on Gumroad, and write blog posts. I don’t fool around on social media.) I hope everyone who encounters them takes away something different from them. That’s sort of the point.
If we consider then those 112 AI Lore book volumes as a single “meta-novel” (composed of many short mini-novels) with countless open-ended expansion points to explore, I’d call the whole thing a win on balance. Even without the money being a factor. All I ever wanted out of it was to be able to pay for my AI habits, and I succeeded at that and then some. That’s all that matters. The rest will happen as it happens.