The Brave New World of Authorship: AI and the Future of Writing

The publishing industry is currently at a crossroads, offering authors the choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Self-publishing empowers authors with greater control over the entire publishing process and higher royalty rates, while traditional publishing provides prestige and wider distribution channels, often with less authorial control. In this dynamic landscape, authors like J. Thorn embody self-publishing’s empowerment and the challenges it entails. Thorn, as a self-published author, has become an advocate for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the creative writing process.

AI has a transformative impact on contemporary authors, reshaping the creative writing process and offering tools that assist with idea generation, style refinement, and market trend prediction. In the self-publishing realm, AI aids in tasks such as keyword optimization, cover design, and market analysis. Meanwhile, traditional publishing can leverage AI for editorial streamlining, identifying potential bestsellers, and optimizing marketing campaigns. However, the rise of AI raises ethical considerations and concerns about job displacement and algorithmic biases, necessitating careful navigation of this evolving landscape.

Thorn’s journey into AI-assisted writing started like many other authors, facing the challenges of juggling a teaching career while pursuing his writing. As the author of multiple books, Thorn accumulated experience in the publishing world and an appreciation for the art of storytelling.

However, it was during his years as a self-published author that Thorn honed his skills and developed a unique perspective on the world of publishing. Self-publishing is often a path less traveled by authors, but Thorn saw it as an opportunity to take creative control and reach a global audience without the need for traditional gatekeepers. 

Thorn recalls, “In the early days, self-publishing was a challenge. There was a steep learning curve, from understanding the intricacies of formatting eBooks to designing eye-catching covers. But I saw it as an opportunity to learn the ropes of the industry and connect directly with my readers. It was a path filled with uncertainty, but it was also incredibly liberating.”

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. But it allows you to build a dedicated readership over time.” — J. Thorn

Thorn’s self-publishing journey was marked by dedication and perseverance; he did not achieve instant success. “Self-publishing is not a quick fix for authors seeking fame and fortune,” he notes. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. But it allows you to build a dedicated readership over time.”

While the financial returns from self-publishing were not initially substantial, Thorn viewed it as an investment in his writing career. “I knew I had stories to tell, and self-publishing was a means to share those stories with the world,” he explains. “It’s about taking creative risks and having the freedom to push the boundaries of storytelling.”

This commitment to self-publishing paid off over time. By 2017, Thorn published nearly two million words of fiction across a range of genres. His work evolved, and he built a substantial backlist of titles available on Amazon and other platforms. However, even with multiple titles to his name, his earnings were still modest, often hovering around $300 per month. While this income could be considered a nice supplement, it was not enough to support a family.

Despite the financial challenges, Thorn’s experience provides valuable insights into the changing landscape of the publishing industry. It was this understanding of the industry that led him to explore the potential of AI in writing and publishing, setting him on the path to becoming an advocate for integrating AI into the creative process.

Thorn believes in the dual perspective of fear and opportunity; the fear stems from concerns about AI taking over the craft of storytelling, potentially rendering authors obsolete. The opportunity lies in AI’s capacity to enable authors to become more effective and innovative storytellers.

Thorn recognizes that, in the short term, the debate surrounding AI primarily centers on how AI can be utilized effectively. AI is often seen as a tool, a collaborator, or even a muse for authors. But Thorn is more concerned with the long-term consequences, a future where AI’s capabilities may extend beyond what is currently envisioned.

Thorn predicts that AI will change the very nature of entertainment and creative expression, potentially generating novels, movies, music, and other forms of art with minimal human involvement. This paradigm shift raises questions about the future of creative careers. Will authors, actors, and musicians become like blacksmiths, pursuing their crafts as passionate hobbies rather than lucrative professions? These are not hypothetical questions; they are becoming pressing issues in the rapidly evolving landscape of AI-assisted creativity.

Thorn recognizes that this is a looming reality, and he acknowledges the trade-offs. While there is a sense of unease about the potential changes, he also points out that the crucial consideration is whether authors are willing to embrace the technology to address other pressing global issues like climate change, healthcare, and wealth distribution.

“The debate around AI’s impact on creativity is complex,” Thorn says. “We need to recognize that the integration of AI in creative fields is not just about our careers; it’s also about how we can harness this technology to address broader global challenges.” He sees AI as a tool that, if harnessed ethically and thoughtfully, could be instrumental in solving real-world problems. 

Thorn’s viewpoint highlights the need for a balanced approach, where the creative community embraces AI as a powerful tool while staying mindful of the potential societal implications. It is not just about the future of storytelling; it is about the future of humanity’s creative evolution.

Thorn’s approach to writing with AI is analogous to an architect working with a construction crew. The architect conceives the building, designs its structure, and envisions its purpose. AI, in this analogy, becomes the skilled crew that handles the laborious tasks, like laying bricks and setting the foundation.

For Thorn, the creative process begins with his unique ideas and concepts, which are deeply rooted in his personal experiences and imagination. He asserts that AI does not replace the core essence of storytelling, but serves as a potent support system. This allows him to focus on refining the plot, characters, and thematic elements, rather than being bogged down by technicalities.

The impact of AI on Thorn’s writing extends to ideation as well. AI tools can spark new ideas and alternative perspectives, injecting creativity into his work. Thorn embraces this as a source of innovation, exploring narrative avenues he might not have considered otherwise. The author believes that it is a symbiotic relationship that fosters collaboration rather than competition. He envisions a future where AI becomes an indispensable ally in the creative process, ultimately serving the author’s artistic vision and the reader’s engagement.

Today, Thorn is not only able to support his family with his writing but also help other authors with their creative process. It is through assisting the author community, that Thorn finds great satisfaction. “I find it incredibly important to help authors navigate the changing landscape of publishing while helping them not only to stay informed of the constant changes but also develop inner resilience and zen-like calmness regarding inevitable changes.”

As the world adapts to the AI revolution, it is crucial to maintain ethical practices, considering the larger global benefits AI can offer in a variety of fields, from publishing to areas like healthcare and environmental conservation. Thorn’s experiences demonstrate that AI can be a valuable tool in the world of writing and storytelling. The future of authorship may be uncertain, but authors like Thorn are at the forefront, allowing AI to enhance their creativity. “The authorship debate is not about AI replacing authors,” Thorn concludes, “but rather reshaping the very role of authors. In conversations with my fellow authors, I notice they get hung up or stuck on this idea that an author is somebody who types words.” 

According to Thorn, authors are much more than that. “What I’ve tried to emphasize is that an author is someone who crafts a story. It’s not about the mechanical action of creating the words, but about the birthing of ideas and narratives. Therefore, if you are hung up on typing words as the definition of authorship, then you should indeed be worried. However, if you are not afraid to redefine what it means to be an author, and are willing to look at yourself as a storyteller, then AI will become one of the greatest opportunities you have ever had.”


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