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Episode 2 – AI as an Assistive Technology

In the second episode of Brave New Bookshelf, hosts Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite delve into the transformative role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the publishing industry. Their discussion unfurls the curtain on AI’s potential to bolster authors’ creativity, streamline writing processes, and even democratize audio book production.


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Myth Busting and the Reality of AI

The hosts quickly dive into debunking common myths surrounding AI in publishing. AI is not the ominous Skynet from “Terminator” but more akin to the helpful computer from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Its foundation in natural language processing and large language models (LLMs) provides authors with a powerful ally in language and story creation.

Practical AI Applications

Moving from abstract to concrete, Pajonas and Favorite share firsthand experiences of how AI aids in various stages of their writing. From ideation, overcoming writer’s block, to editing and refining prose, AI emerges as a versatile tool. Particularly enlightening is the concept of AI as a “dictionary slot machine,” where it uses context to provide responses, highlighting its role in generating novel ideas and suggestions.

AI-Driven Insights for Enhanced Writing

Highlighting a pivotal benefit of AI, Favorite recalls how AI’s analytical capabilities offer insights into writing patterns and structure, unseen by human editors. This aspect of AI not only aids in improving current manuscripts but contributes to the authors’ overall skill development.

The Future of Audiobooks with AI

Perhaps the most passionate part of the discussion centers around AI in audiobook production. Favorite shares personal stories about her daughter’s reliance on audiobooks due to an auditory processing disorder, underscoring the accessibility limitations of current audiobook availability. AI’s potential to inexpensively produce audiobooks opens a world of possibilities for inclusivity, allowing those with visual impairments or learning disabilities greater access to literature.

The Stigma Around AI in Publishing

Despite the potential benefits, Pajonas and Favorite acknowledge the stigma and fear surrounding AI in the publishing community. They emphasize AI’s role as a tool for enhancing human creativity rather than replacing it. The real challenge and opportunity lie in learning how to effectively collaborate with AI, using it to elevate one’s craft.

A Vision for Collaborative Growth

Echoing a theme of collaboration, the episode’s conclusion is an optimistic vision for the future. Both hosts view AI not as a competitor but as a catalyst for leveling up the publishing industry. Through shared learning exchanges and embracing new technologies, authors can navigate the evolving literary landscape confidently.

Brave New Bookshelf’s second episode serves as a compelling argument for the integration of AI in the publishing world. Rather than harboring fears of obsolescence, the discussion encourages embracing AI as a means to unlock creative potentials, improve accessibility, and redefine storytelling for the modern era.

Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome to Brave New Bookshelf, a podcast that explores the fascinating intersection of AI and authorship. Join hosts, Steph Pajonas and Danica Favorite, as they dive into thought provoking discussions, debunk myths, and highlight the transformative role of AI in the publishing industry.

Steph Pajonas: Okay. Hi, everybody. Welcome. So we’re getting off into our episode number two of Brave New Bookshelf. I’m Steph Pajonas, space opera, romance, and cozy mystery author. I don’t know. I do a lot of stuff now with my co host Danica.

Danica Favorite: Hi, I’m Danica Favorite. I am a romance author and also co host with Steph Pajonas, as well as the community manager at PublishDrive.

And I have to say this is the first time I’ve heard you describe what you write a space opera, so that’s new and fun.

Steph Pajonas: I know, I usually say sci fi romance, but it’s sci fi romance has become very like aliens and monsters, and I tend to write mostly humans in space, so I’ve been saying space opera romance.

Danica Favorite: [00:01:00] I love that. I love that change. I love it. I like that new distinction because you’re right. It is one of those things that is changing.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: But, but I think that’s everything in publishing, right? It is ever changing.

Steph Pajonas: It is ever changing.

Danica Favorite: Gotta keep up with the times.

Steph Pajonas: I agree. And I’m also one of the co founders of the Future Fiction Academy and we help authors use AI as part of their writing process and their business processes.

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about some basics about AI. What authors can expect from AI. What it is. Where it came from, those sorts of things. It didn’t just come out of the sky from aliens. And although that would have been really cool, but

Danica Favorite: I’m gonna say as a fan of ancient aliens and someone who has been secretly working on an ancient aliens book or an alien book, like the dude, it’s the aliens.

So I will be happy to give aliens credit.

Steph Pajonas: I’m happy to give aliens credit. That’s [00:02:00] so funny because I want to put each and aliens in my next serial. So maybe we’ll have to hook up on that.

Danica Favorite: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

See, we’re here to talk about AI, but as always, Steph and I just are like,

Steph Pajonas: let’s talk aliens instead.

No, no, no. We’re actually going to talk about AI.

So what are some basics that we can talk about to get started with the authors with AI?

Danica Favorite: I think first of all, what we need to understand speaking of aliens, believe it or not. Everyone thinks AI artificial intelligence, I don’t know. About you. I haven’t seen the new ones, but growing up, I Watched the original Terminator stuff with my dad. That was our thing.

And for a long time, I think that’s what we thought AI was where were these Terminator robots coming to get us. And I still think there’s a little bit of that fear again, particularly for us who had that kind of stuff in our childhood. And we remember that. But I think we have to pare that down because AI as we [00:03:00] know it now is not that smart.

And it doesn’t even work that way. And Steph, I love how you explain how AI works. So why don’t you start about when we’re talking about AI, what are we talking about? And how does it work?

Steph Pajonas: It’s funny that you mentioned Terminator, because I actually think of AI as the computer on Star Trek.

Oh, next generation when they were, they always had conversations with the computer and the computer understood them using natural language, right? And now when I chat with ChatGPT or any of the LLMs, I feel like I’m talking to the computer on Star Trek because what they are are natural language processors that sit on top of these things called large language models, but shorten it to LLMs because large language models is like a whole mouthful, right?

And so these large language models are built in on neural networks. And when we say neural networks, these are These are like computer networks that are designed to mimic human brains, like [00:04:00] neurons and, even I I’ve read a couple of white papers on how they all work and it’s, a lot of it went straight over my head because it is very, very complicated.

But the basics of it is that these large language models were trained on large amounts of data. We’re talking billions and billions and billions of words were put into it. And it basically built a statistical model of language, and it can understand its input from you as a user prompting it, asking questions of it by, based on context.

It’s using natural language. In order to speak with you to have a conversation with you, which is what you’re doing with ChatGPT, because it is built on top of these algorithms and these models that can turn around and give you a response based on context and what it knows.

Okay, so What Elizabeth likes to call this my co founder she calls it the [00:05:00] dictionary slot machine because it’s based on context. It’s looking at what came before in order to give you an answer based on that. So let’s try to think of it is learned language based on a huge amount of input. You’re teaching a toddler how to read and how to understand language, you’re giving this child a lot of input, right?

You’re talking to the child, you’re showing them TV, you’re getting them to listen to music or other people speaking, there’s a lot of input that goes on, and then they build their language based on a lot of input. Same thing is happening with neural networks.

So something to think about that it’s actually like trying to learn how language works.

I think that’s really, really cool. I think that’s super, super cool.

Danica Favorite: I think it is cool because, I think what people don’t realize is, or they don’t like maybe think of it this way, but we aren’t born knowing [00:06:00] what a ball is. We aren’t born like right here. I have this little turtle guy that sits on my desk.

We aren’t born knowing that this is a turtle. And if you’re in a different language, it’s going to be a different language. And but that’s the point is after a while. The more we encounter the turtle, we know that’s a turtle and think about like the board books that we give to little kids and they’re so basic, this is a cat.

This is a dog, and then they’re learning to read see spot run. And so we’re building on these basics of language to teach children those things because they’re born with a blank slate and they don’t know these things. And that’s exactly how AI and LLMs are taught.

I don’t know about you again, like we’re like avid readers, but I learned to read by reading a gazillion books. All the books that I read and things that I encountered I know what a sonnet is [00:07:00] because I read a million sonnets and I had to do this exercise in high school where I had to write a sonnet and I didn’t do that because I naturally knew how to do it. But I did it because I read a bunch of sonnets and we had example sonnets in front of us where.

Okay, this is how we put together a sonnet. Now, if I were a sonnet writer and that was that became my thing, which it’s totally not. But, the funny thing is, is that eventually I would have written enough sonnets that I could actually be good at it on my own, write a very good sonnet without having to look at a million sonnets, but that’s because I had read so many and I had practiced so many times, and that’s exactly how an LLM has become so good at processing language.

Steph Pajonas: There’s literally almost no way it could know those things without [00:08:00] ingesting that huge amount of data. So it’s something to consider is that just like Danica was saying that she read ton of sonnets and then now she knows how to construct a sonnet, right?

So something to consider is the fact that I can write books now because I’ve read so many books prior to this. I was a voracious reader as a child. My mom was bringing me to the library several times a week. Poor mom. And I was ingesting and reading and reading and reading and reading and reading and then the structures of stories become almost instinctual at some point because of the fact that you’ve read so much.

Danica Favorite: And it’s really interesting to me. And now I forget what story model it is that I use, but I had read so many stories that I was using a bunch of different story structures meshed together.

Like in a three act structure or whatever. And it was really interesting because when people would ask me which one do you use? I didn’t know. But once I started using AI [00:09:00] and having AI analyze, what I found was very interesting about my writing is that I actually very naturally fall into one of those structures.

And it was, it was very interesting to me because I went through a bunch of my books and then I could actually now, because AI was helping me analyzing it, I could actually see, okay, boom, yep, I always hit this point of the story structure within this page range. I hit this point within this page range and it isn’t because I studied the structure.

It’s because I read so many books.

Steph Pajonas: Yes.

Danica Favorite: And, that’s how AI knows as well.

Steph Pajonas: That’s definitely what’s happened to be as well. I took a lot of screenwriting in college, so I understood like 3-Act structure. Climax, resolution, denouement, et cetera, understood these things, but it wasn’t until I like actually started writing and using them.

And then, and then recently then, and actually analyzing them with the AI tools, did I see that I [00:10:00] was hitting all those, mile markers, as we were cruising down the road, it’s pretty fun.

It’s really cool to think that there is the structure to storytelling.

There is something about it that is inherent in so many cultures, so many places on earth. And then when you bring all of that into an LLM and you get it to analyze it and understand the structure that it can do it as well.

But we’re going to say It’s not always that great to begin with, right?

Have you prompted lately and asked for some story structure?

Danica Favorite: I haven’t. I think to your point, though, what happens, and this is what happens when we’re learning, too, as humans, that we have this, Woohoo, we’re making advances and then we’re going to regress a little and then we’re going to learn a little bit more and then we’re going to take a huge jump.

You and I both have kids. I, I know remember all the regression tantrums the kids had right before they would like master a really good skill, like boom, [00:11:00] meltdown city. And it’s hilarious because I think of the LLMs as doing the same thing. Like anytime, people in the groups are saying, Oh, man, I’m getting terrible results.

Blah, blah, blah. I’m like, okay, cool. Something cool is about to happen.

Steph Pajonas: That’s so funny. I didn’t really think of it like that way. I always think of the LLMs as having moods, super moods. I know that these tools are not sentient. They’re not sentient, people.

Danica Favorite: They are not.

Steph Pajonas: They are not.

Danica Favorite: And we talk about them like they’re sentient, but they really cannot do anything they haven’t been programmed to do. And so if you are getting things from an LLM that is not appropriate it’s often because the programming behind it is not appropriate or or as I’ve talked to people and they’re like I can’t get the LLM to do this or that.

And I’m like, okay what’s your prompt. And I would say like probably at least half the time, it’s always, there’s something wrong with the prompt.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, [00:12:00] that’s true. We can see the progression of LLMs and AI over the last year and get a feel for where we’re going to go from here.

It’s nice that we get our authors in the community on board and understanding the basics to get them started so that we can roll them up and get them really working with these tools further on down the line.

What are some of the basic things that you use AI for in general?

Danica Favorite: So in general, I use AI for a lot of things. A lot of times it’s just. Ideation or like maybe I’m stuck on something or I want to chat with them. I’ve used it for marketing things. I mentioned this, I think in the previous episode but previous company I was at our marketing team was using AI to write marketing copy years ago, like even way back when, when the marketing abilities of AI were not great.

But now it’s amazing to [00:13:00] me how much it has jumped. I can stick a scene in it that I’m struggling with and I can say, Hey, give me some feedback on this. Why is this not working? Or what can I do here instead? And, give me a list of 10 things that, I can do instead.

I love that one.

My, I think that’s one of my favorite prompts is to say, give me a list of 10 things for blah, blah, blah. Because it gives me options and to me, it would be the same thing as if I called you up and said, Hey, Steph what do you think about this? Now I don’t have to wake you up at 2 a. m. I wouldn’t do that to you because you’re my friend, but for me, that’s when inspiration hits, 2 a. m. I’m like, Oh, okay. And now I have a little partner that I can talk to and say, okay, what do you think about this? Even other things that you don’t think about. I am tentatively planning on doing some traveling in the summer.

And I, I’ve asked AI to help me research things that I could do on my travels. And I’ve heard people using it for recipes. I have not done an AI recipe [00:14:00] yet, but I think anything that you need ideas on AI can help you with. And always, always, always, I just talked about recipes, always verify because we are talking to.

Steph Pajonas: Make sure it’s not poisoning you, please.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, we are talking sometimes to the equivalent of a toddler who is still learning. And you might have a recipe where you’re asking for something and it’s wrong. And so anytime you’re doing anything data driven, go ahead and just find another source to verify that data because they can be wrong.

And. Even I was just thinking the other day I was working on a data project, and I wanted to make it look pretty. And I threw it into ChatGPT and I was like, Hey, can you like put this into a chart or a graph or something? And it gave me a couple of really cool options. The sky is the limit.

I think it’s as much as you want to do it or as little as you want to do it. There are people I know who use it for a few things, [00:15:00] people who use it for everything, and ultimately, it’s your choice. If you’re like, I still don’t want it to write my book. Good. You don’t have to let it write your book, but you could let it write your marketing copy.

You could let it give you title ideas. So there’s, there’s a million other things that can do. And so when you’re thinking about, oh, AI isn’t for me. Maybe it’s not for you in some of the areas, but maybe it’s for you in other areas. I don’t know. Cause I think you’re an Apple person?

Steph Pajonas: Yes, I am.

Danica Favorite: Okay. So I’m Android. So this is a Google pixel. And now when I do a search on Google, the first thing that pops up is an AI generated summary of everything that Google has found on that topic. It’s actually really great because I skim the summary first and then I can look at it and say, ooh, this piece resonates with me.

I click on it and it takes me right to the article. That it got that information [00:16:00] from.

Steph Pajonas: Oh, that’s nice.

Danica Favorite: Which is super handy because I hate scrolling through a million different results trying to find something. And Google kind of has simplified that for me with AI to be like, boom, here’s the summary of the results that I found.

Which one are you most interested in? Boom, there you go.

Steph Pajonas: So nice. Speaking of traveling, last year I went to Europe with my family so I decided to do a lot of Googling ahead of time and I still wasn’t finding results for things that I wanted. And I went to ChatGPT for it.

I said, Hey, I’m going to be traveling and I’ll be in Paris. And I’ve got teenage girls. What are some things they’d be interested in this arrondisement, in Paris, I will be staying, please tell me stuff nearby. And it helped me a lot. Like it really narrowed down my choices. It gave me confidence to then look for those particular places on Google. They would tell me a couple of different museums and then I could go Google those museums.

You know what I mean? So it [00:17:00] was like a way for me to like to narrow down my search and find things that I needed to find. So yeah I use it for lots of everyday things. My husband has been using it to pair wines with our food at night. Okay.

Danica Favorite: That’s awesome. I love that.

Steph Pajonas: A couple of months ago, he was like, is there a wine GPT? There should be a wine GPT. Yes, there is a wine GPT, my friends, if you need one. There is, but you can just ask ChatGPT. He’ll tell ChatGPT like the kinds of wine that we have on hand and tell them the kinds of dinner that we’re having and ask for a pairing. It’s so much fun. We can do so much with Chat GPT. It doesn’t even have to be for writing. But I am using it for pretty much every part of my process now as an author, like I figured out how to use it for ideation and brainstorming character development world building like even helping me generate prose when I need it.

If I need, help with describing [00:18:00] a restaurant, I tell the kind of restaurant where it is, give me some descriptions, include all five senses, these sorts of things that keep me rolling along with it. This is like the basic stuff that you could be doing with AI right now.

And then just like you said, you can be using it for your marketing material. You could be using it to help you write ads. You can use it for whatever part of your process that interests you. Or you can obviously not use it at all if you don’t want to.

But, we’re trying to encourage authors to consider these tools as part of their process because we would like to destigmatize AI a little bit.

Danica Favorite: Yeah. And I think it’s really important because so many authors are afraid of AI because they’re afraid AI is going to take their jobs.

And I’ve heard this in a couple places right now, so I don’t know who to properly attribute it to. But the thing that I’ve heard in response to that is that AI isn’t taking your jobs. Authors who know how to use AI is going to take your job. And I think that’s really important [00:19:00] because I hear such a wide variety of different things about AI I read an AI book and it was terrible.

Yeah. I’ve also read books that were AI assisted that were absolutely fantastic. And the difference between the two was the skill of the author who wrote it and who put that out. And yes. There will be AI generated garbage out there. No one’s going to read it. But guess what? There’s also going to be really good stuff that comes from AI that people are going to love.

And the whole reason they love it isn’t because of the AI. It’s because of the author behind the AI. And that’s one of the things that I really stress to people as I’m showing them different things with the AI is that when an AI generates a paragraph And you’re reading that paragraph to validate it and make sure that it’s good writing and it’s what you want.

It’s your skill as a writer that determines whether or not that is [00:20:00] good. And an example that I like to use is I was playing on one of my old books that I went through and I had this paragraph and so I put it through the AI and I said, Okay, could you improve this and the AI kind of turned the hero into a jerk.

And it wasn’t that the AI was intending to do it. It’s just that I was writing kind of a cinnamon roll kind of hero. And like for him to come out and be like, I’m like, Nope, that’s not him. But only I know that. And I, as the author in the only one who can say, Oh, no AI, you didn’t do a good job.

Here, let’s fix this. Let’s do that. Let’s change this. And It is very much a collaborative process with the AI to be able to get it to write anything that’s not garbage.

Steph Pajonas: I agree. I find that I really have to be in charge, and I think of the AI as [00:21:00] being my junior writer.

So I think of it as somebody that I would have to coach along, tell them what I want, give them guidelines as to what I’m looking for in a response. And oftentimes there will be moments when I get something back and I look at it and think, no, no, I don’t like this at all. Turn around, please rewrite this in a more casual manner or turn around and rewrite this to give me A, B, and C.

And I think that that’s something that people will have to get used to. When it comes to AI is that it is a collaborative process. It is not a one prompt and done type thing that I think a lot of The naysayers are making it out to be, right? It is, it’s just like working with, I have to say it, it’s just like working with another human being on the other side of the screen.

But you have to understand that it’s not a human being on the other side, that it’s actually something that you have to coach and you have to work with, [00:22:00] and it needs to be a collaborative process, just like you said.

Danica Favorite: Exactly. And I think it’s also really important to understand that Steph and I are talking about writing with AI, and I know a lot of authors who try it and it’s not for them, and that’s okay.

For example in case you haven’t noticed, I like to talk. I’m a talker. And so my process for years has been that I dictate my books, and I was finding that some of the AI stuff was not satisfying because I missed that dictation part. And so I had been thinking about why is this a struggle for me?

I’m like, Oh yeah, because what I really want to do is get in my car, talk into my voice recorder for a couple of hours and come back with a couple of chapters. And, and that is what satisfies me as a writer. I know other writers who are going to say, Nope, I want to sit in the computer and do this, this all day.

And you can do that. And that’s okay too. And so I think that we really have to make sure that anyone listening [00:23:00] to this understands that there is no one right way to do it. It’s your way and what works for you. And so figure out the pieces that you love about it. You could say, Hey, you know what?

That’s not for me. And that’s okay. But I also really want to encourage people that when they see someone doing something that’s not part of their process to not say, Oh, you’re terrible or to be down on them for that, because it’s just their process. But ultimately, what they’re writing, what they’re doing with the AI that’s all them.

Because the AI can’t do anything that you’re not teaching it to do, that you’re not telling it to do or giving it to them.

Steph Pajonas: So let’s talk a little bit about that. The assistive element to AI, since we’re on this topic, already, right? I said in our first episode about how I came to AI because I was going through a lot of brain fog from COVID.

So it became almost an assistive device to me [00:24:00] at this point, like helping me. with my memory and remembering details and then getting details out of my brain and onto the page which was literally like the hardest thing to do at that point with the brain fog. It was like thinking through fog there’s a reason why it’s called brain fog yeah you can’t see very far in front of you or behind you and all you can do is whatever is in the moment. And that is a very hard thing to go through as an author.

So I came to it as an assistive device and I think a lot of other people have too. I’ve heard from plenty of people who have been through traumatic brain injuries through immune disorders who maybe even can’t sit at a desk for very long. It can be a real help to them if they need it.

If they can only work at a desk for an hour a day, then we want to try to maximize that hour of time that you get, and if it’s spent just barely typing out [00:25:00] five words, that can be very detrimental to your career. But if you could prompt the AI to give you two paragraphs worth of stuff that you could work on and even not at your desk, if you could work at it in bed or someplace else just think about how much more you could be getting done and how much less stress on your body or your systems that would be..

Danica Favorite: Yeah. I agree with that because like you, I’ve encountered a lot of authors who have varying levels of disabilities that make writing really difficult for them. And it’s been really cool to me to engage with them and hear them talk about how much more hope they have because there’s a book inside them.

They desperately want to write and they just don’t know how and suddenly they’re getting a tool that helps them do that.

The other thing that I want to talk about, because we haven’t really talked about this angle yet, but I know we’re going to get there, is audiobooks [00:26:00] and AI audio.

Steph Pajonas: Yes.

Danica Favorite: And for me, that is a huge passion of mine because I have a child who has an auditory processing disorder.

I have spent thousands of dollars, many, many, many, many hours of therapy to help her get through school. And literally the only reason she graduated high school is because of audiobooks. And unfortunately, in her case, I’m still really angry with the school about this, but I will someday get over it.

However, what I will say is that it taught me a lot about sourcing tools on my own, is that she was deemed not to be Disabled enough to be on an IEP and basically the school literally told me if you will put her on meds, we can give her an IEP. I’m like, she doesn’t need meds. She just needs help with her reading and they never understood that.

And I put her through all this therapy and everything. And what we found through therapy with her is the [00:27:00] way that she learns is she has the book in front of her and she’s got the audio book in her ear. And that that’s how she did it. Now, for those of you who are audio book people, it takes longer to get through an audio book than it does to read a physical book.

And so I did advocate with her, with her teachers to get extra time on some of the longer books. But what I realized very quickly is that that’s how she could learn. The problem is, as we all know, not every book is an audio. And it was really difficult. I jumped through so many hoops to be able to get her the audio books she needed.

And The cool thing about it, though, was that now she, she learned by the middle of high school to learn how to advocate for herself. And I can remember like the first big book she had to read once she’d started advocating for herself. I’m like, Oh, do you need me to talk to teachers? She’s no mom, I got this.

And she did. And this kid has navigated successfully so many ways of getting [00:28:00] audio books that she needs. Now, if you hand her a book and say, read this, she’s going to be in tears because she can’t. The other day we were in the car and she was ignoring me and I look over and I could see the earbud in her ear.

I’m like, you’re listening to a book, aren’t you? And she’s yep. And this kid’s always got a book in her ear. And she loves to read, but here’s the problem, not just in learning, not just in getting through school, is that she will start a series by some of her favorite authors, there are series she loves.

Here’s the problem. Many series, midway through the series, they stop doing the audiobook.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: Because that is unfortunately an economic factor that people don’t realize how expensive audio books are to produce. And so what happens is when the publisher or even a self published author is looking at those audio books and saying, It is costing me more to produce this audio book than it is to make it, than I am making on this audio book.

They make that [00:29:00] economic decision to stop the series, mid series. And so there are so many series my poor daughter has never gotten to finish because it’s not an audio and it’s not cost effective to do. I do have people who a lot of my readers are elderly. And so I get so many letters. Hey, is this an audio and I’m like, No, sorry.

And I hate that. I hate how heartbreaking that is to the people who need those audiobooks. And what’s important is that when people say, oh, but you’re taking money from the narrators, here’s the thing. These audiobooks aren’t going to get made anyway.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: So if we have a way to make books into audio that would have otherwise not gone to audio, we have a whole population like my daughter, her story is not unique.

I, again, like having gone through this whole series of life. Where I was advocating for her and finding resources for her. There were so [00:30:00] many parents with kids who have this problem. And the therapy for it is very expensive. And then having to go out and buy an audio book because the school isn’t willing to provide you with that material.

Like it’s hard and it’s heartbreaking. And I’m not saying don’t go buy audio books because please buy the audio books. But I know those struggles that parents have.

And not just parents, but people and even, as your eyesight is declining to be able to hear that book, it’s really amazing.

And I, I’m a big advocate for that and for people who have any kind of visual impairment that they need the audio book, or like I said, for my daughter, it’s not that she’s visually impaired. It’s a processing issue in her brain. It’s so wonderful to me that this child who years ago would have probably been written off now has a hope at having a future because she can access the written materials she needs to [00:31:00] succeed.

Steph Pajonas: I love that. My younger daughter is very similar, where she just reads extremely slow. And she has had some auditory processing problems in the past, so we also do the same thing. We try to give her the audiobook at the same time that she’s reading the book in print. And we try to do that as often as we can.

I’m excited for the possibility of her getting access to more books as AI audio starts to take off. When AI audio started getting really, really good this past year, I was like, Oh, this is a game changer for people who are hard of sight, for people who rely on audio as part of their life.

When you consider long haul truck drivers who listen to audio books, like constantly on their trips, there are a million different reasons for needing audio, right? And now so many more books [00:32:00] are going to be open to people in this format.

And I’m totally jazzed by it. I’m super excited for it because I think that it’s going to be another game changer for the entire industry. I understand that some audiobook narrators are frightened. Because they’re thinking, this is big and could totally change their industry.

And I’m going to say that the people who are doing really well with audiobook narration, they’ve already made a name for themselves or the ones that are coming up and they’re really good at this. I don’t think that they’re going to be replaced by this technology. I think that they’re always going to have work.

The people are always going to be looking for them.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, exactly.

And I think that is something that we really do have to address is, the advent of AI is going to have to make us all step up our game, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I think that we have to be constantly growing and learning and improving, whether that’s, our craft or whatnot.

And I think that’s okay. And so I think [00:33:00] that if you’re in the spot of complacency of saying, I’m just doing my thing. And come on, step up the game a little bit. And like with the audiobook narrators the times that I’ve considered hiring a narrator and again, it was just never cost effective for me to do.

Steph Pajonas: Same.

Danica Favorite: But like the authors in the different groups, I can’t tell you how many of them have said, Oh yeah, my narrator ghosted me. I paid this money and never heard anything back.

Steph Pajonas: In the middle of a series too, sometimes.

Danica Favorite: Yeah, I actually had that with a cover designer, looking at AI and AI cover design, I had that with a cover designer, where I spent more money than I’ve ever spent on a series of covers.

I was so excited. And midway through the designer ghosted me. And I paid all the money, like I was, I paid everything and you’re never going to get that back.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, it’s so frustrating. It’s so frustrating.

Danica Favorite: And so I get it. Here’s the thing. AI is going to replace those people.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah.

Danica Favorite: Those are the people who are going to be out of a job. And frankly, they should be out [00:34:00] of a job.

Steph Pajonas: Mm hmm.

Danica Favorite: Sorry.

Steph Pajonas: Sorry, I agree. I agree 100%.

Danica Favorite: But honestly, like I have a cover designer I’ve used. I haven’t used her recently, because I haven’t had anything for her design for me recently, but as much as I think AI covers are great.

If I had a cover that I would fit like with what she does, I absolutely would go to her first and say, Hey, yeah, Could you do this cover for me?

Because I really do like her work and that’s the same with audiobook narrators. My kids read a lot of fantasy books. And fantasy is not going to translate well with some of the AI stuff.

I think you could probably start doing it. Some of the narrators that they have, because we’ve gone on road trips and played their books on the road trip in the car for everyone to listen to. And yeah, those fantasy narrators are really good.

Steph Pajonas: They are.

Danica Favorite: So if I had a choice between that and an AI audio book, I absolutely would choose that narrator.

So I think that people need to understand that it’s not a black or white thing. It’s this whole [00:35:00] scale of gray and what’s going to fit that area the best in that given situation.

Steph Pajonas: And I think It’s important to understand that AI is just another choice. It’s just another format in this case.

Danica Favorite: Yeah.

Steph Pajonas: So I’ve been doing some AI audio and I consider AI audio to be a part of my process because I can get it done and get it out there. And if it is, earning income and bringing more income in, that means that I have more income to spend on things like maybe getting a human narration down the road, which would be awesome.

Like I’m still all for that, right? I can use that income to bolster my business and be able to provide more for my readers.

Danica Favorite: Exactly, exactly.

Steph Pajonas: It doesn’t need to be either or.

Danica Favorite: And that’s what I was just saying with the cover designer. As soon as I get some stuff that I need covers for I’m gonna really sit down and think, okay, this cover designer that I really like only [00:36:00] designs things in certain genres.

And so that’s why I’m like, I don’t know if she would be able to do it or not. But also does she have room in her schedule and, and like all of the things you consider and it isn’t. That, okay, I’m going to choose AI all the time. No, I’m going to really weigh, what are the considerations? What is the timeframe look like? What does the cost look like? All of the different things. And yes, what does the quality look like? Although to be honest, I’ve been blown away with some of the quality of AI covers lately. I’ve just been like, Oh my goodness. So I really do think that again, like it’s, it’s, it’s a spectrum and it’s not, Either or, like you said, it’s not either or it’s in the spectrum.

What fits the need the most at this time? So we’re not trying to put anyone out of business, but…

Steph Pajonas: We’re trying to level up the business.

Danica Favorite: Exactly.

Steph Pajonas: I’m looking to level up this entire business.

Danica Favorite: I love that. I love that idea of just, we’re just leveling up as [00:37:00] authors I feel like I’ve become a better writer because of AI, and it’s not because AI is writing the stuff for me.

It’s because as I’m putting stuff into AI, and I’m getting scenes analyzed, or I’m getting my writing analyzed, I’m like I said this sentence. I don’t like it. How do I fix it? And the AI gives me ideas. And I’m like, Oh, wait a second. I understand what’s going on. And it isn’t about, Oh, The AI taking my place or doing it for me.

It’s oh, wait, now it’s causing me to think deeper about my writing and to realize, okay, this is really good. This is what I need to improve on. The feedback I’ll get from AI. Because a human editor isn’t going to come back and say, here’s this pattern in your writing. If it’s a really strong pattern, yeah, they’ll come back and say, yeah, you use this word a million times.

Stop it. But AI can look at all the different patterns. And so suddenly you’re like, okay, I [00:38:00] understand that my scenes are always missing this little piece and a human editor is not going to pick it up. I’m in the testing and playing phase.

And so I’ve taken my published stuff and run it through AI and compared the notes between the AI and the human editor. And it’s fascinating because it really does pick up things that I don’t think I would have thought of otherwise.

Steph Pajonas: Yeah, I just find that AI is going to be bringing people up a notch and, and, Unfortunately, because we are leveling up, there are some people who will not level up with it, right?

So when we’re talking about designers being afraid of being replaced, et cetera, we’re talking about the fly by night, slap a couple of stock photos together and put a title on it. Book titles that we’ve all seen. We’ve all seen them on KDP. I think back on my like 10 years in this business, Oh my God, like the first couple of covers I saw were just what, [00:39:00] what happened here?

So like this AI is going to level up even like the most basic stuff. And I think that the industry is going to be so much better for it. I think we’re all going to be better for it.

Danica Favorite: And the thing I also want to say, because we are talking about upping our game and leveling up and really trying to do better.

If you’re sitting here going, Hey, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not an attack on anyone. It’s not saying, Hey, what you’re doing isn’t good enough. You can keep doing what you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. But for people like you and I, because you and I are really very growth mindset focused and we’re always striving to improve and do better and to grow and we embrace that.

And it’s okay if you’re like, you know what, I’m pretty content where I’m at. You get to make that decision, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. There’s no shame in that, and I want to be really clear that, even the current cover designers who don’t use AI, a lot of them are very good [00:40:00] cover designers, a lot of the narrators who aren’t using AI are very good narrators, and so this is not to diminish anything that anyone is already doing, it’s just to say, we’re going to add something else.

It’s like having an ice cream sundae and saying, you know what, I’m going to put two cherries on top. I’m going to put extra sprinkles.

Steph Pajonas: I want extra sprinkles and whipped cream.

Danica Favorite: I want extra sprinkles. Yeah, yeah. Come on, give me more of the good stuff. And that’s okay. And so for me, I think it’s really just acknowledging that we all have our own paths.

And for those who want to embrace and explore that path with AI, Steph and I are here to support you.

Steph Pajonas: We are, and we’re going to be talking a lot about that over the coming weeks, on Brave New Bookshelf. I’m excited because I really want people to see this as the technology that it’s here to help us, to assist us, [00:41:00] to give us the leveling up that we need.

So let’s focus on that. Definitely going forward. I’m excited about everything we’re going to talk about in the coming weeks.

Danica Favorite: I know again, we are teasing here, but the guests that Steph and I have talked about wanting to have, we’re so excited. And because even though she and I have these first two episodes, we’ve done all the talking just so you can get to know us and get to know where we’re coming from.

Ultimately though, the people we want to talk to are people that we are learning from. Steph has talked about collaborating with the AI and that’s a collaborative process. And learning AI. Learning to navigate the writing world, that’s something that’s also going to be very collaborative, and it’s something we’re doing together, and I love that, and that’s why I’m really excited about this is our future.

Steph Pajonas: Me too. Super excited. All right. Great. I think we had a really good discussion, especially about the basics of AI and [00:42:00] the way that it can assist us moving forward. So I think we’ll wrap it up for this week. And then hopefully we’ll come back next week with some more fun stuff. Excellent. So we’ll talk to you guys all soon.

Danica Favorite: Bye.

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