How I define ‘AI’
I use the Alliance of Independent Authors’ definition of AI which encompasses both:
“technology that replicates human behaviors and abilities conventionally seen as ‘intelligent’ and “applications or tools that combine human and machine intelligence.”—AI for Authors: Practical and Ethical Guidelines via ALLi. (Originally published December 2022; last updated January 2023.)
This includes but is not limited to the following applications:
- Search and recommendation algorithms, such as Amazon’s “Customers also read” or “Customers also bought” recommendations;
- Grammar and spell check tools, such as Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or the Hemingway App; and
- Generative AI, such as text-to-image or image-to-image generators (e.g. Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, DALL-E) or large language models (‘LLMs’) text generators (e.g. ChatGPT, Sudowrite) which may be standalone or integrated within other tools and services (e.g. Shutterstock, Canva, Photoshop).
What I believe
I stand with Clarkesworld on the use of AI in the publishing industry (originally published on 28 May 2023).
This means that I believe:
- AI technologies are powerful tools capable of both providing incredible assistive benefits to human creators and doing incredible harm.
- Generative AI tools should be trained and developed using ethically sourced training data (i.e. full, explicit, opt-in consent and licensing obtained from the rights holders prior to the inclusion and use of the data in any training set).
- The use of AI should be clearly disclosed.
My publishing process and the use of AI
I strive to use zero generative AI in my books and publishing business as I do not believe the current tools have been developed using ethically sourced training data.
The following table sets out my writing and publishing process for each book and, to the best of my knowledge, whether AI tools are used in that part of the process and to what extent they are used:
|Use of AI?
|Alpha (rough) draft
My rough drafts are 100% human written. At this stage in the writing process, I am focused on nailing characters and their emotional arcs rather than descriptive details. Much of my writing at this stage will have ‘XXX’ placeholders.
I do not use AI to generate concepts/ideas for characters, plots, world building, or any other elements in the narrative structure (at the story, chapter, or scene level) or the prose (i.e. at the paragraph and sentence level).
My alpha readers are other human authors in my writing group who provide me with structural feedback on my alpha drafts.
(Structural feedback consists of high level feedback on whether the overall story is working in terms of the characters and their arcs, plot lines, and the alignment of story promises and the progress towards the payoff on those promises.)
I do not use AI to identify, assess, or determine the necessary structural/developmental revisions to my books.
|Beta draft (world building pass)
My settings are 100% human created and developed.
I do not use AI to perform research on world building elements or to fill out any ‘XXX’ placeholders.
|Beta read & beta read revisions
My beta readers are other humans who provide me with overall reader reactions to my beta drafts.
(Reader reactions consist of high level emotional reactions to the beta drafts at the line, chapter, act, and overall book level.)
I do not use AI to identify, assess, or determine the necessary further structural/developmental revisions to my books.
Line editing consists of revisions at the paragraph and sentence level for paragraph and sentence structure, word choice (including repetitious word choice), flow, etc.
I do not use AI for line editing.
|Grammar & spell check
While I primarily refer to the Chicago Manual of Style and dictionaries for grammar and spell check, I do make use of Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and Hemingway App as a secondary check to flag potential grammar and spelling errors I may have missed.
I manually investigate all flagged issues from these tools to determine whether or not they are correctly flagged before deciding whether or not I will accept any suggestions from these tools.
Proofreading consists of identifying errors in formatting (e.g. margins, line breaks, section breaks) and prose (e.g. missing/doubled/transposed letters/words/punctuation marks).
I read the final, typeset manuscript backwards to identify any proofing errors. I do not use AI tools for proofreading.
I aim for zero proofreading errors; however, as with any highly manual process, there is a chance that some errors may slip through. If you have identified something that you believe is an error, you can report it for investigation via my website.
|Cover art & design
My cover designer is the team at Damonza. You can find their terms and conditions here, their discussion on the legal and ethical use of AI in book cover design here and their generative AI image policy statement on their website here. (The policy was initially released on 10 June 2023.)
The book cover for Petition consists of stock images licensed from Shutterstock. It was created in January 2022. The ebook cover design was finalized in April 2022; the paperback cover design was finalized in May 2022; and the hardcover case laminate cover and dust jacket were finalized in June 2022—prior to the widespread public release of generative AI tools and therefore free of AI to the best of my knowledge.
The book cover for Supplicant consists of stock images licensed from Shutterstock. It was originally available as a premade cover and subsequently modified to include the same character in December 2022. The cover is yet to be finalized but I will be requesting Damonza confirm that no AI images were used in the creation of the book cover.
Going forward, I will be requesting that no generative AI images are used in the creation and design of my book covers. (Damonza provides a specific opt-out checkbox in their new order forms.)
My blurbs are 100% human written by me.
All marketing copywriting on my author website and my social media is 100% human written by me.
I manually research and identify keywords for my books using Publisher Rocket and Amazon’s auto-suggested searches.
I do not currently use paid advertising for my books.
I use Canva, Photopea, and GIMP to create promotional graphics for my website, social media, and author newsletter.
Damonza grants me the use of the cover art for marketing materials. Refer above for the use of AI in my book covers.
Both Canva and Photopea have integrated generative AI into its service; I do not use these functions to create promotional graphics. I generally use my own cover art and photography and/or screenshots as much as possible, though I do also make use of stock images, text elements, and/or filters in Canva.
While I do my best to avoid the use of generative AI images in my promotional graphics, I cannot guarantee that my promotional graphics are free of AI for the following reasons:
Canva sources its stock imagery from Pexels and Pixabay. Pexels allows anyone to contribute to their repositories and does not appear to require labeling. Pixabay allows the uploading of content created with generative AI technologies with labeling, however the onus is on the uploader to ensure the labeling is accurate and complete. While I check the source of any graphics I use in Canva, I may inadvertently use something that has been created using generative AI due to inaccurate labeling by the original uploader.
I may also, from time to time, participate in promotions organized by other authors and members of the self-published fantasy community which will require the use of promotional graphics that may be partially or wholly created using generative AI without my knowledge or the knowledge of the organizer.
I do not use generative AI to produce character, concept, or interior artwork.
Detecting the use of AI
While I can guarantee every word in my books is 100% human produced by me, I cannot guarantee the same for my covers and promotional graphics due to:
- the widespread proliferation of generative AI technologies;
- a lack of robust controls over the uploading of images to stock imagery websites;
- the reliance by stock imagery websites on contributors to accurately label/tag all uploads created using generative AI technology as AI images;
- the lack of accurate AI detectors;
- the rapid improvement in the output of generative AI text-to-image and image-to-image generators; and
- the integration of generative AI technologies into stock imagery websites (e.g. Shutterstock, Canva) and standard industry design tools (e.g. Photoshop).
I make all reasonable efforts to ensure that any book covers, cover art, and promotional images commissioned or created by me are 100% AI-free by:
- Explicitly opting out of the use of generative AI tools;
- Checking the sources of images I use to ensure none are labeled as ‘AI’;
- Working only with highly reputable artists and designers who have a well-established portfolio of work and a clear position on the use of AI in their creative process;
- Instructing any artist or designer I engage that I do not want any generative AI elements or tools to be used in any work I commission from them;
- Checking the images themselves for obvious generative AI artifacts; and
- Running the images through AI detective tools, such as Hive Moderation, to obtain an indicator as to whether the content may potentially contain AI generated elements.
However, as an author, I do not have the knowledge, skills, or expertise to be able to consistently and accurately identify and assess whether or not content is wholly or partially AI generated. In addition, my understanding is that current AI detection tools are not sufficiently reliable, producing both false positives and false negatives, and their reliability is further reduced when AI generated content is further edited by a human.
Therefore, until such time that it will be commercially feasible for me to commission custom human illustrated cover art from a reputable human artist, I cannot guarantee that my covers, cover art, and promotional images are 100% AI free.
Reporting the use of AI
If you believe that I have used AI in my books or publishing business in a way that is contrary to my intentions as laid out in this statement, please let me know via the contact form on my website so I can investigate it.
Remedies for the inadvertent use of AI
If inadvertent use of AI on my part is confirmed, I will do my best to make all reasonable efforts to remedy the situation to the best of my abilities.
For example: I explicitly instruct my cover designer to not use any AI in the creation of the cover art and my book covers. My cover designer relies on accurate labeling in a library of stock images to select components for the cover. My cover designer also refrains from using any generative AI technology embedded into Photoshop. We are subsequently informed that one or more elements of the book cover are AI generated even though the image/s were not labeled as such in the stock image library.
This is a highly plausible scenario and an increasingly frequent occurrence for authors and publishers—both traditionally published and self-published. (See: Christopher Paolini and Tor for the cover of Fractal Noise; M.V. Prindle for the cover of Bob the Wizard; Michael R. Fletch & Clayton Snyder for the cover of A War to End All; Eryn McConnell for the cover of Death by Sugar)
If this happens to me, I would ideally replace the AI generated elements with human-created ones as soon as possible; however, this may not always be logistically or commercially feasible in a short time frame.
As a result, I will consider and decide on the remedies on a case by case basis. I will publicly disclose both my decision and the process I used to arrive at that decision.
Updates to this statement
I will review this position on at least an annual basis in response to ongoing developments in how AI technology evolves and changes in the publishing industry.
For full transparency, I will maintain a changelog of updates to this statement, including explanations for any changes in my position.
- 12 June 2023: Originally published.