Academy of Wayward Authors: Why Your Brand Is the Ultimate Defense Against AI

Brand building in the age of AI

Let’s talk more about AI.

It is not about whether you should use it, what constitutes its use, or when it will become ubiquitous, but how it will level the playing field and eventually make it easier for you to stand out. We will also talk about your ultimate defense against it—your brand.

Here’s the thing: it won’t be how you think it will be. The full impact of AI on publishing will not be its use in content creation. The effect will be how it is used in running your publishing business.

When a technology becomes ubiquitous, it loses its competitive advantage and becomes the new norm. It’s not a matter of whether you use it, but rather that it is impossible not to use it.

You’ll need to automate and sift through massive amounts of data to find your audience and make your books visible. Running advertising will be akin to high-frequency trading. A human won’t be able to manage these amounts of data, make choices, and write books simultaneously.

The British Navy faced a grave concern as it adopted steam technology.

Britain was the Saudi Arabia of coal at the advent of the Industrial Revolution, and a steam engine vastly outperformed sailing ships. The Admiralty was concerned that coal would run out. Experts said that steam engines would become more efficient in burning coal, making coal last longer.

pexels elīna arāja 3401354

This didn’t solve the problem for the Admiralty because they were concerned that as steam engines became more efficient, they also became cheaper and more accessible, thereby increasing overall coal demand.

Eventually, better fuels, diesel and nuclear, were developed, but the steam engine was still the dominant method for powering large sea-going vessels.

Any modern navy needs steam-powered vessels. They are ubiquitous.

AI will be the engine below the deck of every business. So, I’m not expending energy in fighting progress. Instead, I look to stay at the tip of the spear.

Someone reading this article (I hope it’s you) will dominate their genre by following what they will read next.

This person will not just understand what’s below but will build their entire strategy around these principles.

For others, the rest of this article may seem harsh and too focused on competition.

Just recognize that as harsh as it may feel, the complex self-organizing system we call the publishing market is far harsher and cares even less about how you feel about fairness. It rewards authors who are willing to embrace competition by giving them further advantage.

Understanding costs and timeframe

Do you understand your costs better than other authors?

You win by embracing business practices like cost accounting and working to produce and sell your product for less than others. You will accumulate more profits to reinvest to improve even more. Applying AI in this area could result in better operations than you currently have.

The author who understands precisely what it costs to acquire and retain a reader compared to the lifetime value of that reader will dominate the genre.

I’m not talking about your CPC or what you pay for covers. Those tactical costs matter, but if you don’t understand how they combine into the bigger process of attention acquisition, you’ll never see the whole picture.

I win if I can acquire a customer with a larger spread between the acquisition cost and lifetime value. This isn’t new. It’s what Jeff Bezos identified when he said your gross margin is my market.

When it comes to time, there is a short time frame and a longer timeframe.

Most authors focus on the next book they launch next. Sell more books and get as many customers as possible this launch.

pexels pixabay 415078

The focus tends to be on writing faster. From a production perspective, the author’s production cycle contains enormous waste. I don’t seek to run in that race.

What if you played the long game and thought out how to build a brand that makes it obvious to a reader why they should come back?

I’ve seen this play out in multiple genres where early entrants have a successful series and then coast. I’m not suggesting this is about going all out and never relaxing. I’m suggesting that the winners were the authors who took the long-term approach to building an audience. They looked at the whole experience (each book, the series, and the customer engagement), and if they became the obvious choice in the genre, they eventually would dominate the category.

It all boils down to positioning yourself as the obvious choice when readers are asked about their favorite author.

You achieve this by offering a unique brand promise and delivering on it.

This is where AI falls short. Those who blindly rely on it will produce similar results to others and fade into the background noise.

Only a human can grasp the nuances of emotion and understand how brand choice resonates with a reader’s identity. It’s a complex, emotional human aspect that robots can describe but not replicate.

You’ll be left behind if you believe your marketing and brand management can be solely accomplished by using copy from ChatGPT. It’s a tool, and the way it’s used determines its effectiveness.

I encourage everyone to embrace AI for writing copy and blurbs. It provides a valuable leverage point in the market to exploit. The more you make your readers feel seen and heard in the disconnected realm of 21st-century social interaction, the more they will desire to be a part of your brand.

In the long run, the timeless art of storytelling and the power of emotional connection will prevail. Are you building your brand to win that race?

Read: A Comprehensive Review of Your Time At the Academy