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AI Guidance For Indie Authors: Practical Steps From The Alliance Of Independent Authors

AI Guidance for Indie Authors: Practical Steps from the Alliance of Independent Authors

Like all author and publishing associations, the Alliance of Independent Authorsself-publishing today has been following the ongoing developments regarding AI and authorship in recent months. We know just how important it is for all of us as authors to understand developments as AI pervades almost every aspect of our industry.

Today, we share six practical steps to stay up to date in 2024, based on our AI guidance for indie authors, which recommends an AI curious approach and a close eye on developments. For more, read our complete AI guidelines here: ALLi AI Guidance for Indie Authors

  1. How to Control AI access to your work going forward

You can make some efforts to control what access AI has to your work and writing style, and what use it can make of it, from contracts, to consent, to what data you input into existing tools.

  • Be careful of cloud storage systems and check whether they are allowing AI to use the data stored with them, either by their own tools or third-party tools. ALLi’s Watchdog has a list of these: ALLi Watchdog Desk
  • Consider carefully any contracts with publishers looking to publish your work, including articles in magazines, papers or journals, and look especially for any references to if and how they would allow your work to be used to train AI.
  • Consider whether or not you wish to allow AI tools in the production of your work by a third party and make this clear—e.g. ask to see their own internal AI policy and consider whether you want AI to be used for such purposes as translation, production of audiobooks, editing, sensitivity reads, cover design and indexing. Ask your own team (editors, cover designers, etc.) what use they make of AI tools and then consider whether you are happy with their approach.
  • Ask for images not to be AI sourced or generated should you wish to. These are individual decisions that only you can make for your author business.
  • Capture your decisions about AI in your own ‘AI Policy’ so that you have a decision-making guide, and revisit it to ensure it reflects changing circumstances.
  1. Use AI author tools carefully

We understand that authors may wish to make use of AI tools in their writing and business, and we do not wish any of our members to fall behind in their use of this technology should they decide to use it. But before using AI tools we recommend you…

  • Consider that in many instances, the tools were created without the permission of the creators of the content on which the tools were trained and in most cases do not compensate the creators for the use of their content.
  • Remember that integrity and honesty are paramount. AI must not be used for plagiarism or to compromise the originality of content.
  • Ensure you are not inputting copyrighted third-party material into an AI tool, as to do so is infringing someone else’s copyright without their consent. Only copyright-cleared or your own original materials should be used as inputs for AI tools.
  • Be transparent about your own use of AI tools. Provide a clear declaration when AI has been used in the creation, editing, or publishing process, including in any publishing contracts. Make sure the extent of use of AI is clear. For example, it is unlikely a reader would care about using AI tools to spell-check a document, but they should know if AI was used to generate content from scratch.
  • Maintain a high standard of quality for all your content, including AI-assisted content.
  • Check any “facts” presented by the AI, since in the absence of sufficient data in their training database these tools are known to make up information.

Before using an AI tool, ask yourself what it is getting from you as well as what you are getting from it. By using these tools, you are continuing to train and develop them. You can think of this as ‘investing’ your data with a developer and using prudence in doing so, just as you would with investing your money in a bank.

Who do you want to support?

ALLi is working to identify AI tools that have better ethical credentials (e.g. their developers have implemented consent and ideally compensation initiatives), and we will be proactive in drawing attention to them and in ensuring our author members know how to use them ethically.

You can also take steps to ensure ethical use of these tools: check the terms of service of any AI tools you’re considering using. In fact, a great use of AI would be to spot where an author’s works have been used without permission and to issue notices to take down/desist.

  1. For narrators of your own audiobooks: check industry AI guidance

For those authors who narrate their own works, there is a useful AI toolkit of information available from the performing arts and entertainment trade union, Equity. You can access the toolkit here: Equity Artist AI Toolkit

      1. 5. Raise your voice on AI for indie authors

      We recommend that all authors add their voice to any existing campaigns whose position you support (whether that's ALLi's AI curious approach or another association's different take). As ever, it is about making our views heard and coming together to expand our influence.

      The Author's Guild has an open letter from 15,000 authors (including some indies) writing to AI leaders here: Authors Guild Open Letter to Generative AI Leaders.

      Explore a range of practical tips for protecting your works in future with this guide from the Authors Guild: Practical Tips for Authors to Protect Your Work From AI Use

    OVERALL. Be more human!

Do the things AI can't do.Communicate from your deepest experience, using your own voice, telling your own truths. In your publishing, focus on local, imperfect, real connections with other human beings: your readers and the authors in your niche whose work you most admire. Incorporate audio and video—where you cannot help but reveal yourself—into your marketing or as a supplement to your books. Be more personal, more honest, more flawed, more authentically you. Personality, values, and personal branding will become ever more important, as will true human connection with your readers.

Find out more:

You can read the full  updated AI for Authors Guidelines from ALLi on our website. These will be updated as needed, so bookmark the page to visit ongoing: ALLi AI for Authors Guidelines

To download a Human Created Symbol , visit: Human Created Symbol Download

Thoughts or further questions on this post or any self-publishing issue?

Question mark in light bulbs

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

If you're an ALLi member, head over to the SelfPubConnect forum for support from our experienced community of indie authors, advisors, and our own ALLi team. Simply create an account (if you haven't already) to request to join the forum and get going.

Non-members looking for more information can search our extensive archive of blog posts and podcast episodes packed with tips and advice at ALLi's Self-Publishing Advice Centre.


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