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AI. What's it good for?

Katie Isbester, publisher of Claret Press and founder of Clapham Publishing Services, had an interesting experience with AI over the summer. Here's what happened.


Odd things happen during the dog days of summer. I kind-of-but-not-really took time off and this meant that I got to have long conversations with friends and former clients. One was a Clapham Publishing Services client who’d hired me to edit his thriller, and had just used an AI programme to edit his rewrite.


I had already used this AI programme back when it was in its beta (testing) stage. It had improved over the years. So that’s the good news. The bad news is that it was still utterly and completely useless – but likely only an experienced editor would know that.


The AI programme produced pages of pie charts and bar charts, graphs and percentages.


The sheer volume of information was staggering. And staggeringly impressive. What were the ten most common words? (he, she, it, was, were, very, etc). How many adverbs had been used? Or swear words? The AI had also made appalling mistakes, such as, the book most similar to his techno-thriller was the romcom Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.


That’s not useful information or accurate information. That’s just information.


The AI programme was unable to make an analysis of the content, what it known as a deep or substantive edit, or make a close line edit. I’d done both.


He agreed that my contribution was not without merit. But those multicoloured pie charts. Those graphs. All that information.


I’m being made to compete with something so clearly inferior. It’s like comparing Kraft dinner with a meal prepared by a chef using the best ingredients.


It’s just an odd choice to make, that’s all.


About the photos: Katie inputted information about Claret Press into an AI tool that generates promotional images. The results are something so wildly wrong that they're funny (the book spewing blood and/or wine is the office favourite).

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