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MJ DeMarco

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Yep! I think the best writing is going to be created not by humans alone or AIs alone, but by collaboration between the two. We want to sit at that intersection and enable humans to go further, faster.

Interesting dynamic with respect to how one creates a great story.

This would appear to take a lot of the writing craft out of the equation, and instead put the weight on the author to come up with unique stories, plots, and twists.

Kind of like building a house and the AI is what is behind the decorative details, but it is up to the author to layout a blueprint and frame the house accordingly.
 
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The people who are going to kill it in content generation (ie writing) in the next few years are going to be the people who feed the A.I. systems that already exist.

They're already dominating many spaces without much of the general public realizing it.

How much have you played with GPT-3 based systems? Have you tried out something like Jarvis.ai?

I don't think most people realize how good these systems are becoming.
I personally know people who've hired content "writers" (More like A.I. dog walkers at this point) who essentially feed the system facts, names, places, specific products, etc and are able to crank out 100,000+ words per day.

It's not at all what it was three, four, five years ago. I've been trying out these automated writing tools for 10 plus years and they were always pretty terrible and gimmicky for the longest time. In just the last 12 to 18 months it's got to the point where I almost can't believe it.

This is content that is indistinguishable from human written content.

Just go read the GPT-3 Wikipedia. In their studies it was like 50% of people couldn't choose when comparing two different writing samples side by side. Meaning it's essentially 50/50, a coin flip to even differentiate machine written content and human written content.

Of course these systems aren't perfect and there's a learning curve to figure out what patterns to feed them and how to properly organize the facts and figures you feed the system but once you get it down you can produce a ridiculous amount of content.

This is going to be the present and future opportunities for "writers".
So glad I sent you down this rabbit hole @MTF
This thread has gotten way more interesting than I thought it would.
Very cool you brought the cofounder of another AI tool onto the forum.
Thank you for all the initiative. I wish more people I know in real life would pick up on this stuff. The average person I know just glazes over and doesn't believe me when I tell them they're reading AI-written content without even knowing it already.

Interesting dynamic with respect to how one creates a great story.

This would appear to take a lot of the writing craft out of the equation, and instead put the weight on the author to come up with unique stories, plots, and twists.

Kind of like building a house and the AI is what is behind the decorative details, but it is up to the author to layout a blueprint and frame the house accordingly.
I hope this is true.

I'm worried though that this is just our human egos believing we're more important than we are.

I've yet to come across a language pattern or story which can't be traced back further from another story. Back to the birth of written language like Sumerian, Egyptian, etc. The stories just repeat and repeat.

The Egyptian Horus, like Jesus (or Jesus, like Horus),
  • born of a virgin
  • had twelve disciples
  • walked on water
  • delivered a sermon on the mountain
  • performed miracles
  • rose from the dead
  • ascended into heaven
... all the same patterns.

For a time, yea, it's going to be a partnership between us and AI but very quickly, on exponential growth terms I don't think we can't truly comprehend, the rate of improvement will far outpace what we could ever hope to add to the system.

Not trying the fear-monger, just looking at this from the most logical point of view I can.

Still doing the best I can (as fast as I can) now with all the tools at our disposal. I'm just crossing my fingers that some radical jump (GPT-4, some 3rd party API, etc.) doesn't make it all in vain.

Either way, let's all have fun with these tools while they're relatively new and the general public isn't even aware. Exciting times!
 
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superamit

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…instead put the weight on the author to come up with unique stories, plots, and twists.

Kind of like building a house and the AI is what is behind the decorative details, but it is up to the author to layout a blueprint and frame the house accordingly.

Exactly, I think it'll abstract the writing process to a higher level. There will still be people who excel in wordcraft, but most will pour that time and energy into better concepts and elevate the art. As the tools get better, we expect more from the artists.

I think of it like the effect of photography on portrait artists. Painting a portrait was once the only way to 'record' an image of a person for posterity. Sometimes they were done perfunctorily, sometimes artistically. When photography became possible, it was at first quite crude. Hardly a replacement for portrait painters. But of course, that changed over time.

At some point, photographs became even 'better' than portrait paintings -- in that they were more 'realistic' depictions of the subject, anyone could create them, and they required only a single button to create. But the story doesn't end there. There are of course many famous art photographers and they push the same buttons any novice would -- but their art is in the higher-level concepts. They're paying attention to the subject, the setting, the lighting, the mood, what the photo says about the subject, etc.

The machine does some of the work, freeing the artist to focus on their creative vision. I see something similar happening with writing as the technology improves.
 

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@MTF - It seems the natural approach for writers is to diversify into coaching, seminars, and other courses.

Aren't you paying for a course from David Farland? I never heard of the man as an author, but I'm guessing he makes more $$ as a trainer/coach, than an author.
I subscribe to David Farland's email newsletter. He wrote a bunch of fantasy books (not my genre, I tried to read them and didn't like them), his wife is also an author, and he writes a lot of "how to" writing books. He's a judge on the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest.

He pimps his courses HARD in his email newsletter. I've never taken one. He pushes his BYU roots hard, too, and that's a massive turn-off for me (I'm not religious and I don't see what being a Mormon has to do with any of this, so why bring it up?).

He brags ALL THE TIME that Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) was a student of his, as well as claiming to have been the person to tell the publishing house to go ahead with Harry Potter. He says he was approached by Blizzard and is the one that recommended the third race (Zerg) in Starcraft, and that made it a massive success. Same with Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner (The Maze Runner).

While he seems to have an impressive resume, he's pretty full of himself for someone that nobody's ever heard of.

His newsletter is occasionally about interesting writing stuff and I read maybe 25% of them. There are nuggets of wisdom in there, sometimes alerts that he or his wife is curating a StoryBundle and I like to check out the deals.

I'd bet with you that he makes WAY more money on courses than his own fiction.
 

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I subscribe to David Farland's email newsletter. He wrote a bunch of fantasy books (not my genre, I tried to read them and didn't like them), his wife is also an author, and he writes a lot of "how to" writing books. He's a judge on the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest.

He also writes under Dave Wolverton (his real name) and published science-fiction and historical fiction.

He pimps his courses HARD in his email newsletter. I've never taken one. He pushes his BYU roots hard, too, and that's a massive turn-off for me (I'm not religious and I don't see what being a Mormon has to do with any of this, so why bring it up?).

I signed up for his Apex membership and find it one of the best digital products I've ever bought. There are some issues but overall his courses are well-structured and contain a lot of valuable storytelling advice I've never heard anywhere else before. I also signed up for his upcoming 318R class that starts in September (Brandon Sanderson, Stephanie Meyer, Dan Wells and James Dashner all attended the same class).

As for his BYU roots, Mormons treat their religion more seriously. I don't care about it, either and I don't see it being pushy as he (thankfully) doesn't push any religious views on anyone when he teaches how to write fiction. By the way, all three hosts of Writing excuses are Mormons, too. For some reasons, many Mormons from Utah are very successful authors.

He brags ALL THE TIME that Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) was a student of his, as well as claiming to have been the person to tell the publishing house to go ahead with Harry Potter. He says he was approached by Blizzard and is the one that recommended the third race (Zerg) in Starcraft, and that made it a massive success. Same with Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner (The Maze Runner).

Well if I had such students I would definitely brag about them all the time as well LOL. Also, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells (both of his students) do mention him often in their podcast as well and have a lot of respect for him (he was a guest many times) so it's not just empty bragging.

Zergs are based on a creature from his series The Runelords and here's the back story:

Just after I wrote the first Runelords novel, in fact, I began working for a small videogame company called Saffire in Utah. My first job was to land a contract for StarCraft’s Brood War, which I did. I was then asked to be the co-leader of the design team, and I came up with a lot of fun things for the game. I even threw my “Reavers” into the game. (If you’ve played, the Zerg Lurkers were based on my reavers.)

While he seems to have an impressive resume, he's pretty full of himself for someone that nobody's ever heard of.

I have a feeling he enjoys teaching and being a judge in writing contests more than he wants to be super well known. He's definitely very knowledgeable and in my email interactions with him I sensed nothing but wanting to help.

As for nobody hearing of him, his prime time was in the late 90s and early 00s.

To give a related example, probably few people know about Hugh Howey today even though his Silo series published back in 2011-2013 were hugely successful and he was perhaps the biggest self-published star then. Not all authors stay super relevant for decades but it doesn't matter they can't teach how to tell stories (though perhaps they don't understand how to market books these days).

I'd bet with you that he makes WAY more money on courses than his own fiction.

Possibly but I wouldn't be 100% sure. He said in one of his books published years ago he had made at least 2 million from his fiction, and approaching 3 million. So he has probably already crossed 3 million from fiction alone which is IMO pretty successful. There are a little over 400 people in his Apex group so that's just $100k a year assuming they all stay on for years.
 

chimichangatime

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He also writes under Dave Wolverton (his real name) and published science-fiction and historical fiction.



I signed up for his Apex membership and find it one of the best digital products I've ever bought. There are some issues but overall his courses are well-structured and contain a lot of valuable storytelling advice I've never heard anywhere else before. I also signed up for his upcoming 318R class that starts in September (Brandon Sanderson, Stephanie Meyer, Dan Wells and James Dashner all attended the same class).

As for his BYU roots, Mormons treat their religion more seriously. I don't care about it, either and I don't see it being pushy as he (thankfully) doesn't push any religious views on anyone when he teaches how to write fiction. By the way, all three hosts of Writing excuses are Mormons, too. For some reasons, many Mormons from Utah are very successful authors.



Well if I had such students I would definitely brag about them all the time as well LOL. Also, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells (both of his students) do mention him often in their podcast as well and have a lot of respect for him (he was a guest many times) so it's not just empty bragging.

Zergs are based on a creature from his series The Runelords and here's the back story:





I have a feeling he enjoys teaching and being a judge in writing contests more than he wants to be super well known. He's definitely very knowledgeable and in my email interactions with him I sensed nothing but wanting to help.

As for nobody hearing of him, his prime time was in the late 90s and early 00s.

To give a related example, probably few people know about Hugh Howey today even though his Silo series published back in 2011-2013 were hugely successful and he was perhaps the biggest self-published star then. Not all authors stay super relevant for decades but it doesn't matter they can't teach how to tell stories (though perhaps they don't understand how to market books these days).



Possibly but I wouldn't be 100% sure. He said in one of his books published years ago he had made at least 2 million from his fiction, and approaching 3 million. So he has probably already crossed 3 million from fiction alone which is IMO pretty successful. There are a little over 400 people in his Apex group so that's just $100k a year assuming they all stay on for years.
Fair enough. Something about the way he comes across just rubs me the wrong way. And anyone that's actually READ the Twilight series would tell you that they're good stories but terribly written, so that's a double-edged sword.

And I appreciate the feedback on the Apex writers course!

re: Hugh Howey - yeah, haven't heard from him lately. Looks like he just published something. Wool wasn't my favorite (I'm not a big fan of dystopian) but the Beacon 23 series was very good (I am a fan of harder science fiction).
 

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Fair enough. Something about the way he comes across just rubs me the wrong way.

Yeah I get it. I try to look past it (I mean in general the personality of a teacher assuming they otherwise share useful knowledge) but I do understand what you're feeling. There are some people I can't stomach, too.

And anyone that's actually READ the Twilight series would tell you that they're good stories but terribly written, so that's a double-edged sword.

Ha, that's the thing with many phenomena in literature, isn't it? But ultimately, at least from the Fastlane perspective, it doesn't matter. If they're selling incredibly well, it's because people find value in them, even if "pure" artists don't agree.

It's also important to remember that it's hard to judge a book objectively if you aren't a part of the target audience. I could say that a book written for 16-year old girls is cringeworthy but to them it perfectly captures what they're going through (or what they dream about). A writer who can capture the imagination of their target audience without being a part of them is definitely a good storyteller. This is actually a very difficult skill to have but one that's crucial to becoming a successful author in many genres.

By the way, the funny thing is that, as far as I remember, David also mentioned in one of his books or videos that Twilight isn't superbly written. Still doesn't matter. Sometimes beautiful prose distracts too much from the story, and I assume that's particularly common in YA and romance.

re: Hugh Howey - yeah, haven't heard from him lately. Looks like he just published something. Wool wasn't my favorite (I'm not a big fan of dystopian) but the Beacon 23 series was very good (I am a fan of harder science fiction).

That's not a new release. It looks like a re-release of his old novellas. I read Sand a few years ago and it was pretty good. But I wouldn't call it hard science fiction.
 

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It's also important to remember that it's hard to judge a book objectively if you aren't a part of the target audience. I could say that a book written for 16-year old girls is cringeworthy but to them it perfectly captures what they're going through (or what they dream about). A writer who can capture the imagination of their target audience without being a part of them is definitely a good storyteller. This is actually a very difficult skill to have but one that's crucial to becoming a successful author in many genres.

By the way, the funny thing is that, as far as I remember, David also mentioned in one of his books or videos that Twilight isn't superbly written. Still doesn't matter. Sometimes beautiful prose distracts too much from the story, and I assume that's particularly common in YA and romance.

It's not that her book isn't beautiful prose. The main character is basically along for the ride and people had a hard time imagining her because she's so dull. Or maybe that's the appeal? I dunno; I didn't like the movies, either, but she got my money :)

To that point, the books did sell and she's got boatloads more money than I do. I often say the same thing about [insert famous pop star here with no talent]: well, maybe they suck, but they're doing better than I am, so there's something to getting out there and sucking anyway.

I try to do that more as I get older and care less about what other people think.
 

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Which audience do you think presents a better opportunity for fiction writers these days: adult fiction, young adult, middle grade or perhaps children's books?

Out of these four, one—young adult—actually appeals to two groups (both adults and young adults) but it's so distinct it can't be thrown into the same category as adult fiction.

Here's my take:

Adult: probably the most crowded market. Readers often have high expectations (because unlike younger audiences, they've already read a lot), adults (except for older adults) tend to have less time for attention-demanding entertainment (TV shows don't require as much attention) so it may be tricky to sell books to them. I can be wrong here, though, because at the same time adults have most money to spend and many are so stressed out that they NEED to escape into another world.

Young adult: also very crowded but the market is bigger so there are possibly more opportunities. Most modern bestselling books that made the authors multimillionaires are YA.

Middle grade: I don't know much about it but it seems to be very lucrative if you create fun characters that can be featured in long series and/or adaptable into TV/movies. It also presents interesting opportunities in selling directly to schools, libraries, etc.

Children's books: a lot depends on the illustrator so unless you're one, probably tricky to pull off.
 

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Which audience do you think presents a better opportunity for fiction writers these days: adult fiction, young adult, middle grade or perhaps children's books?
Young adult, without a doubt. As you said, it's has a broader range of accessibility. Plus, if you can get teenage girls onboard, you've "made it." You don't necessarily need fantastic prose to appeal to the audience (Twilight, 50 Shades), and in some genres, you don't even need an editor (urban fiction/street lit) and can crush it.

Speaking of street lit, according to their YouTube videos, those hood romance authors can consistently jam out 5k words a day. They're dropping a 3-part, 250-page-each series in 6 weeks. They have raving fans that push them to triple-digit and sometimes double-digit rankings on Amazon with each release. The books are dialogue-heavy, written at a lower reading level, but have drama that keeps people interested.
Middle grade: I don't know much about it but it seems to be very lucrative if you create fun characters that can be featured in long series and/or adaptable into TV/movies. It also presents interesting opportunities in selling directly to schools, libraries, etc.
This could be interesting if someone wanted to jam out a ton of novella-length stories. Thinking of serials like Goosebumps (235), Sideways Stories from Wayside School (wow, 4, I thought there were more because they're short story cycles), Junie B Jones (28), etc. When a kid discovers one they like, the rest are read. The downside is they're probably borrowed from the school library.
 
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Young adult, without a doubt. As you said, it's has a broader range of accessibility. Plus, if you can get teenage girls onboard, you've "made it." You don't necessarily need fantastic prose to appeal to the audience (Twilight, 50 Shades), and in some genres, you don't even need an editor (urban fiction/street lit) and can crush it.

It seems that no matter the genre, YA is almost always romance. The setting changes but the plot is almost always the same and heavily focused on romance. Based on my research, it looks like it's almost always heavily slanted towards women so maybe it's not as broad of an audience as I thought (considering most books are excluding most men).

I'm looking for some YA books to read and study as a writer but so much of it is boring to me as a guy. I'm pretty sure it's awesome for women but probably not as much for many men who just want to read a nice adventure story without shoving another romance into their throats.

Perhaps there's a niche in writing YA books for men with little to no romance. But I guess there's a reason why almost all bestsellers don't focus on men and most seem to be written by women (or at least people with female pseudonyms).

This could be interesting if someone wanted to jam out a ton of novella-length stories. Thinking of serials like Goosebumps (235), Sideways Stories from Wayside School (wow, 4, I thought there were more because they're short story cycles), Junie B Jones (28), etc. When a kid discovers one they like, the rest are read. The downside is they're probably borrowed from the school library.

Yeah this is something I'm researching now. I've noticed that the YA market on Amazon doesn't really reflect "true" YA anymore considering how romance-heavy (if not bordering on erotica) it is. Middle grade seems to be better in this aspect as in when you search for children's books you actually see clean books on the bestseller lists without much violence, romance, etc.
 

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Young adult: also very crowded but the market is bigger so there are possibly more opportunities. Most modern bestselling books that made the authors multimillionaires are YA.

This would be my guess. Have you seen Wattpad? They claim to serve millions of people, but they seem to be all young adults, notably female.

Not sure I could write YA as it requires a lot of knowledge on how things work with respect to technology. High school in the 80's vs 2021 has to be incredibly different.
 

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This would be my guess. Have you seen Wattpad? They claim to serve millions of people, but they seem to be all young adults, notably female.

70% female, 80% millenials or gen Z.

The problem is that most readers on their site are from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Turkey, and Brazil. All of these countries are relatively poor, with few people able to buy a book. Which is precisely why they like Wattpad and the free stories.

Not sure I could write YA as it requires a lot of knowledge on how things work with respect to technology. High school in the 80's vs 2021 has to be incredibly different.

I'd say that it's more important to write good romance than anything else. You don't have to set it in a high school. It can be fantasy, sci-fi, whatever.

But like I mentioned before, YA is now primarily a female genre and romance is expected.

I asked some authors and they said that if your story features a 16-year old (standard age for YA), major publishers will force you to include romance or tell you to make it middle grade (making the character younger, reducing violence, eliminating swear words, filtering for upsetting stuff, etc.). That's even if your main character is a boy and the story doesn't have anything to do with romance.
 

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What type of fiction do you currently write?
 

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What type of fiction do you currently write?

At the moment I'm playing with sci-fi and fantasy but fantasy attracts me more. Currently researching the differences (in writing and market potential) between adult, YA, and middle grade.
 

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Quora’s first new product is Quora+ — subscribers will pay a $5 monthly fee or a $50 yearly fee to access content that any creator chooses to put behind a paywall. These are the same rates that Medium, which has no ads, charges for its membership program.

Rather than paying select creators, subscribers will pay Quora. Then, each subscriber’s payment will be distributed to creators “in proportion to the amount each subscriber is consuming their content, with more of a subscriber’s contribution going to writers and spaces the subscriber follows.” Creators have the option to enable a dynamic paywall on Quora+ content, which would give free users access to certain posts if Quora thinks they’re likely to convert to paid membership; there’s also an “adaptive” paywall option, which uses an algorithm to decide whether to paywall content for a specific user on a case-by-case basis. This is supposed to help creators strike a balance between monetizing their content and growing their audience to find new potential subscribers.

The other option is for creators to write paywalled posts on Spaces, which are like user-created publications on Quora. Quora will take 5% of the subscription fee, which the creator can choose at their own discretion — comparatively, the direct-to-consumer blogging platform Substack takes 10% of writers’ profits, which makes Quora a competitive alternative. Other platforms like Ghost ask for a $9 monthly fee, but let writers retain their revenue — for writers making at least $180 per month, Ghost would be more profitable than Quora.

For some reason I doubt it's going to work. Quora is mostly silly life questions. Besides, they have a history of banning people for breaking their countless rules so it doesn't seem like a good option for writers. Better just launch your own newsletter with a premium option.
 

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For some reason I doubt it's going to work. Quora is mostly silly life questions. Besides, they have a history of banning people for breaking their countless rules so it doesn't seem like a good option for writers. Better just launch your own newsletter with a premium option.
Silly life questions?!

Do you think it's silly to want to know if the Transporter or John Wick would win in a fight?!

Or if an Emperial Star Destroyer could defeat the U.S.S. Enterprise??
 

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I wrote a piece directly on Jarvis’ platform, spent probably 2 hours in total. But only half of the work was saved. I received a warning notice that Jarvis is having server problem and tried to copy/paste my work to a MS Word document, only half of the work was copied. Worse yet, Jarvis re-booted the page for me and half was lost on the screen too. Took me another hour to re-write.
Lesson: it is not a good platform to use directly, it’s better to still write elsewhere and then copy your work back to Jarvis, or generate ideas with Jarvis and copy it back.

Echoing @MJ DeMarco, I am slowly finding that my edits do take longer. Only because when Jarvis re-writes a paragraph it can totally mess up the directionality of a message. Example: “I was introduced to Smith by John“ becomes “Smith introduced me to Josh”.

It is still amazing. Just need to learn to navigate the pitfalls.
 

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Jarvis just got an update, it should be a lot less touchy on some subjects. Here's their news email talking about this:

Real-talk time.

We have a content filter set up to help stop Jarvis from writing about super sketchy stuff. As many of you have noticed.... this filter has been a little heavy-handed.

The filter was getting triggered by clean words like:
  • squid
  • pregnant
  • bladder
  • nuts
  • detox
  • sexual health
  • etc

Well today, we made some massive updates to our content filtering model to GREATLY improve the filter.
The new version is way more flexible with the good stuff, while still keeping the not-so-good stuff from being written about at scale.

For everyone who has been frustrated by this before, give it a try again. I think you'll find it massively improved.

And remember – CONTEXT MATTERS.

Example:

"I bought a pair of panties." will likely be fine.

"I sniffed a pair of panties." will likely get flagged.

It's not just about the words you use, but the context you use them in.
 
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Jarvis just got an update, it should be a lot less touchy on some subjects. Here's their news email talking about this:

I was happy to see that in my inbox. I'm using Jarvis for some brainstorming for my novel and it's great that now it won't constantly come up with these annoying sensitive content warnings. As long as I don't write about sniffing panties LOL.
 

Antifragile

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Funny thing... I started using Jarvis to help with a few e-mail replies. He seems very good at "rewrite" part for what I need.
 

BizyDad

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So I signed up for Sudowrite. As a side thing, I've been writing on weekends. Mostly for me, but if I actually write something worth publishing I'll give it a shot. I suppose it'll qualify as YA, expect my protagonists aren't 16. I'm kind of working on writing the stuff I wanted to read when I was 16. To date I wrote a 337 page pile of flaming garbage. It took me over a year of writing on Saturday mornings. And that's ok, because I wrote it and finished it and it sucks so bad I have no desire to edit it because it just won't work. I haven't told anybody about it, so this will probably be the only place I mention it.

I didn't write it to be good, I wrote it to be finished. I am pivoting to some new ideas and am hopeful Sudowrite will help me with that process. But like Stephen Pressfield suggests in The War Of Art, I'll shut up about it while I'm working on it. I don't want to be someone who is endlessly writing the great American novel, I want to be a guy who writes novels. If they ever get published, or I published them, cool, but that's not my intention. I have to write. It has always been a life goal, and I am really happy to actually be doing it, finally.

For my agency we just started playing around with Jarvis to create content. I'm documenting some of that process here, but will update this thread as we learn more, allowing for time. I have an employee doing this work, so my "insights", such as they are, will be second hand.

Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you for everyone contributing to the thread for spurring this action in me. It's been super helpful and exciting. What a time to be alive!
 

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Funny thing... I started using Jarvis to help with a few e-mail replies. He seems very good at "rewrite" part for what I need.

I think that a lot of its usefulness depends on your creativity.

I now primarily use it for filling in the blanks when writing fiction or when looking for something cool and unpredictable I wouldn't think of myself.

For example, let's say I write this:

The old, haggard man sat on a wobbly stool with its white paint peeling, cleaning his dirty yellow fingernails with a rusty dagger. He took a swig of ale and set it aside on a heavy oak table. The items laid in front of him suggested he was a mercenary. There was

I want more details to make the scene richer. I can think of these myself or I can give Jarvis this input and see what he comes up with. Here's his first try:

The old, haggard man sat on a wobbly stool with its white paint peeling, cleaning his dirty yellow fingernails with a rusty dagger. He took a swig of ale and set it aside on a heavy oak table. The items laid in front of him suggested he was a mercenary. There was a shield with a crest of two knights standing over a black wolf.

A rusty short sword, its hilt from a brown wrapping around iron wire and chunks of silver on the pommel. A bow leaned beside him that had an arrow knocked in place, ready to fire at any moment. And he was wearing old leather armor with arrows poking

Here's the second try:

The old, haggard man sat on a wobbly stool with its white paint peeling, cleaning his dirty yellow fingernails with a rusty dagger. He took a swig of ale and set it aside on a heavy oak table. The items laid in front of him suggested he was a mercenary. There was a suit of leather armor, a worn out sword and two daggers. The old man rose from his stool and walked over to the corner of the room where an oak chest was stored away with various other weapons and items. He retrieved a long bow that was strapped behind it in the chest.

He sat back down on his wobbly

This of course requires some clean-up but it's an incredible starting point. Doesn't it nicely paint the guy as an old mercenary ready for whatever?

I also use Jarvis for brainstorming ideas. For example, you can give him a command like "Come up with a list of names for a fantasy kingdom" and it's an excellent starting point, too. For anyone wondering who doesn't have Jarvis, here's the first output after this command:

- Silverhammer

- Whiteshield

- Stormwind

- Scarletmoon

- Burningheart

- Darkshore

- Ironforge

- Blackrock

- Stonemaul

Of course you'd have to make sure none of these are used in notable fantasy works but it's still super useful.

That's basically mostly how I use Jarvis now. I considered canceling my subscription since I don't write non-fiction anymore (and I thought it was primarily useful for non-fiction) but when I discovered how I can use it for fiction and it has already helped me a lot a few times, I'll probably continue using it. As for Sudowrite, I use it for richer description and in general so-called better "treatment" (rich descriptions, metaphors, etc.).
 

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What are in your opinion the best Fastlane opportunities for writers? Which opportunities are exhausted and which ones may still have a bright future? Is writing still a lucrative skill or should writers consider it more of a supplemental skill?

I've been in the self-publishing industry for the past seven years. It's no longer such a gold mine as it was in the past. With no strong competition for Amazon on the horizon, it's becoming more and more of a business dependent on just one company, with thousands of competitors both corporate (traditional publishers) as well as individuals (who often flood the market with cheap, low quality ghostwritten books and manage to game the Amazon's system).

I'm wondering if writers today should still first consider going into book writing/publishing or perhaps try something else and stay away from books.

What are your thoughts on various business models for writers? How would you monetize your writing skill in the most Fastlane way possible?

The way I see it there are three main paths:
  • book publishing - crowded, Amazon-dependent, you can sometimes spend months working on a book only for it to fail miserably (there's no easy way to test a product before creating it),
  • copywriting - may become a career instead of a business, though some copywriters earn incredible amounts of money (like Jay Abraham who's technically more of a consultant),
  • blogging/courses/other digital products not sold as books - this requires a personal brand and narrowing your expertise to one main topic. Also, writing seems to be more of a side skill here, with marketing experience and personal branding being the primary skills needed.
Any other thoughts you have, feel free to post them here. I'd like this thread to become a regular discussion for writers on the forum.

Tagging @ChickenHawk, @MJ DeMarco, @Bekit.
It doesn't help that most of the fiction authors who seem to be "killing it" are exclusive to KU. Sure, there are some earning six figures a year being wide but nowhere near as many - at least from what I've observed (and I'm in a fair few author groups).

I can go into the upsides and downsides of Wide vs Kindle Unlimited, but it won't serve this thread.

Regardless of what path a writer chooses, however, there are two things those who do really well at this gig do:

1. Publish often (3-5 or more books per year).
2. Market consistently.

Both require grit, skill, and the ability to let go of perfectionism (which writers suffer a lot from).

While self-publishing has never been more crowded - and will likely become a sweat fest with the advent of AI - I still believe there is plenty of corn to be had.

The key is building and nurturing a fanbase as quickly as possible.

And you can only do that through publishing books.
 
Last edited:

Joker_P5R

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I really think the industry is really crying for some alternative solutions to Amazon's dominance.

Moreover, authors really need help on finding readers at an affordable price.

Everything, right now, has to go through Amazon's ecosystem which makes everything expensive and unfriendly to authors who are authors first, and marketers second.

At the moment, a friend and I are experimenting with a SAAS offering in the space right now. It's too early to see if we will make any impact or traction, but I think it is worth a diligent attempt.
Hi MJ,

can you let us know the name of the service? :)
 

MJ DeMarco

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can you let us know the name of the service?

Yes, but not at the moment.

At some point I will post a thread about it when it is closer to beta use.
 

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I've not used it (nor intend to), but CopyAI: Create Marketing Copy In Seconds might also be similar to what you guys are looking at.

Seems very limited compared to Jarvis, at least as for overall versatility. I now use Jarvis every day for writing fiction and it's incredibly helpful once I figured out how to use it for my purposes.

It doesn't help that most of the fiction authors who seem to be "killing it" are exclusive to KU. Sure, there are some earning six figures a year being wide but nowhere near as many - at least from what I've observed (and I'm in a fair few author groups).

Short-term it can work great. Long-term I don't really see an author building a solid international fan base if they only sell on one site. In general, business-wise it's a terrible move to have only one distributor. I know that it only applies to e-books (though most authors are also exclusive to ACX for audiobooks) but it's still a big limitation and a dangerous move long-term.

I'm now writing fiction and I don't plan to enroll in KU regardless of the genre I'm going to end up writing.
 

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