The Dos and Don'ts of Using AI to Write Your Book AI is here, and people are freaking out. But you can't use it for everything — unless you want to sound like everyone else or Rosie from the Jetsons. Here's what to use it for and what not to use it for in writing your book.
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I was so excited! Last week, I spoke with a potential author, who told me that his manuscript should be done in a few days. The kicker? He hadn't started it yet.
I imagined him isolating himself inside a hotel room, pulling a Hemingway in a cabin somewhere off the beaten path. "I'm using AI to write it. Have you heard of the most recent chat AI?" I had, and my 50 years made me skeptical (it's a side effect of growing old and awesome, lol).
But I was curious as the AI waves in my entrepreneurship network seemed to be gathering speed. AI-speak was popping up all over the place. As a publisher, editor and writer, did I have something to worry about? How would this change the face of publishing? Would it be like the most recent changes: everyone becoming a publisher and author — which is great for the market and people, but then there was the drawback: everyone becoming a publisher and author.
You might get mad at me, and that's okay, but there are some fields we cannot level, even with the best tools. Hence, this article, which came about after I played with AI with my own manuscript and while writing ideas one late night. Here's what I found in using AI — what it's good and bad at:
The pros and cons of using AI for writing
1. It is GREAT at generating headlines. In fact, I used it to cobble together the headline for this very article. My author told me he is loving the book titles it is spitting out for him.
2. It is quite effective at taking existing copy and editing all the extra words out (i.e., "word economy"). The finished product will read a little like stereo instructions: flat, dehumanized and like everyone else's. But this is a good starting place if you are working with a transcript, for example. Just load it up, and send it through AI so it comes out clean on the other side.
3. I didn't like the results when I asked it to include storytelling elements like "use body language" and "include dialogue." It will give you very basic suggestions like, "I wrote," "I listened," etc.
4. It is not consistent or accurate to include all elements of your manuscript unless you ask it to. I think it was actually designed for short-form docs because I crashed the thing a couple of times. For instance, I included a story about how my college professor took us on a field trip to select the main character of our stories, and boom! That was not included — until I told it to "include the story about my professor taking the class on a field trip."
5. It takes some of the work out of writing your outline (please tell me you always start your book-writing process with an outline). But remember, the outline needs to read like your old-school English teacher used to yell at you about. You need an objective for each chapter — easily accomplished with AI — but then you need supportive points. So, if you're writing about how to implement effective marketing in your business, your bullets under that could list out what marketing is, why you need it, what some of those marketing options are, and so on. You will need to tell your AI robot to provide supportive statements. Otherwise, you are stuck with a table of contents — that's not enough info for your prospective book.
Now, the fabulous news! If you are a content creator, this can totally change the game for you. My author told me he ordered his AI to whip up a 52-week content creation calendar complete with posts. So, you could work that up and then feed in your existing content. Repurposing what you've written and shared is one of the smartest ways to compound your visibility, drive home your brand awareness, improve your content creation efficiency, speed up your writing and implementation, and the benefits keep coming.
Don't worry that you will put people off with brand wear-out, either. It takes people a LONG time to remember your name and face (not that you aren't completely lovely and memorable — it's just how humans are wired). Did you know that if you have at least ten podcast episodes, you have a book? Feed your transcripts to the AI monster, take the results, and insert your humanness, stories and case studies. Then you've got a book.
The way I see it, AI is like Grammarly. It will improve you where you are. It will also teach you if you let it. You can't take every suggestion of either blindly. You need to use your judgment to make decisions about what to include and not include in your writing. Know the basic writing rules. Keep your style. Then utilize the tools at your disposal to improve your talents.