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In ancient times, stories were memorized. Many of the ancient stories are poems. The poetic form helps you know if you are reciting the words correctly and has helped preserve epic poems like the Iliad and Odyssey from generation to generation.  

Then, writing came along. Greek Philosophers were concerned that this new technology would rot the minds of the youth. They feared people would lose the ability to memorize the Iliad word for word.

As Socrates once said, “If men learn this [writing], it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.”

But writing took off anyway. In fact, through writing, we can still read Socrates’ criticisms of writing. 

Was Socrates wrong? As the number of books grew, the ability to memorize the Iliad was slowly lost. Today, people struggle to memorize seven-digit phone numbers.  

The Romans later used their vast wealth to employ hundreds of scribes to create proto-publishing houses. Books were no longer the domain of scholars. They became something people read for fun, and Roman patricians acquired enough books to have libraries in their houses. The population was so literate they even had graffiti, some of which is still visible to this day in Pompeii.

The Romans invented the codex, which cut scrolls into pages and bound them together in a “book, ” making storing and transporting long works easier. Suddenly, the whole Bible could be carried by a single monk on a single horse from one part of the empire to another.  

Then, 1,000 years later, the printing press came along, and it was better than an army of scribes for duplicating books.

The combination of the printing press, cheaper paper, and the codex led to an explosion of writing that set Europe on fire. Books could be inexpensively created, and they could be smuggled.

However, the printing press didn’t make writing any easier. Book-writing still required a feather and inkpot.

Almost no one wrote directly with a printing press. On a printing press, the type is reversed when you look at it, making drafting directly almost impossible. Benjamin Franklin is the only author I know of who composed directly onto a printing press, and this was because he was a professional printer who knew his way around type. He was also a genius who didn’t care that his straight-to-press writing was often riddled with typos. Franklin cared more about scooping the competition than about quality. In journalism, rapid release can be a path to success.

While creating, duplicating, and transporting books became easier, the writing process remained about the same as it was for those Greek authors Socrates disapproved of. Authors were still scratching rough drafts with feathers and inkpots. 

Then, everything changed when the typewriter came along. 

The typewriter made writing so easy that it took writing from the domain of scholars and aristocrats and opened it to the middle class. The number of people writing books and the number of books published both increased.  

I can’t imagine this went over well with the authors using the old system. Suddenly, the aristocrats and scholars had to compete with a horde of new, middle-class authors. “These authors will flood the market with low-quality books!” they must have complained. 

And that is exactly what happened. 

The typewriter, combined with another new invention, the paperback book, led to an explosion of quickly written and cheaply made “pulp fiction.” Scholars and aristocrats still wrote “quality,” but the middle class could write pulp. Eventually, the scholars and aristocrats started using the typewriter, too. 

The typewriter became the iconic tool of authors in the 19th and 20th centuries. If you search for an author on a stock photo site today, you will find photo after photo of people wearing hats and sitting in front of typewriters.

Then, everything changed again with the advent of the word processor and dot matrix printer. Word processors allowed authors to quickly make edits. They also had rudimentary AI-powered spell checkers that could find and correct typos. The dot matrix printer allowed copies to be printed off in minutes. 

Word Processors brought about two massive changes. They made writing a book easier, causing the number of new books to explode again. But they also changed how books were written. No longer were authors thinking through every sentence as they dipped their quill in the inkpot to write four more words before pausing again to go for more ink. With the new technology, authors could skip the outlining process altogether and jump straight into writing crummy first drafts with the full intention of editing them into masterpieces later. 

Did the word processor make writing better? No. But neither did it make writing worse.

Authors write masterpieces with word processors. There is also a lot of dreck saved as MyBookFinalFinalVersion6.docx saved on a word processor somewhere. 

Our view of books from the past can be easily distorted if we only look at what survived. Most books failed to pass the test of time. They are forgotten and unread. While word processors didn’t make writing better or works, they did make the writing process faster, easier, and accessible for more people. 

Over time, the AI in spell checkers improved and added grammar checking. Then, they added copy editing. Authors became more aware of the technology that makes their word processor work: AI. 

It is important to remember that word processors have had AI from the beginning. I remember Microsoft Word’s Clippy hounding me about gender-inclusive pronouns back in the 1990s. 

Each year, AI advances. A decade ago, it could suggest the next word. Today, it can suggest the next paragraph. Culture is having a moral panic over AI. But is AI evil?

Is AI Evil?

Let’s step back and ask a simpler question: Was the printing press evil? 

The printing press allowed the dissemination of the communist manifesto, which led to the spread of communism. This ideology killed more people in one century than all the religions across all of time combined

For comparison, roughly 150,000 people died in the Spanish Inquisition. Compare that to 1,000,000 people who died in the Cambodian killing fields or the 100 million who died under Soviet and Chinese communism

The poisonous ideology of communism would not have spread without the mass production of Lenin’s Communist Manifesto and Mao’s Red Book

Was the printing press to blame for the horrors of communism?  

Humans have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We know right from wrong and have the will and ability to do evil. Humans built the printing presses, wrote the books, and distributed the books. The printing press is no more to blame for the violence of communism than the trees used for the paper. 

Fundamentally, AI is still a human creation. Humans program the machine learning algorithms, select the datasets for the large language models (LLMs), and write and tweak the queries the LLMs process. 

AI has not eaten from the tree of knowledge. It has no will, but humans love to blame their own evil actions on their tools. Evil people blame their evil on their tools all the time. “It wasn’t me, officer! It was the bullet that came out of my gun!” Evil requires a will, and AI has no more will than a knife or a gun. AI is a human creation and cannot be evil.

Why does that answer seem unsatisfying? Because we’re not really wondering whether AI is evil. We’re wondering whether it’s safe. 

Is AI Safe?

No, it’s not. AI is no safer than a knife or gun. While AI can’t be evil, people wielding it can be evil, and they can use AI to advance evil. Just like evil people used the printing press to advance communism and Nazism, people will use AI for evil as well.

Conversely, people used the printing press for good. It may have printed Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but it also printed the Bible and Principia Mathematica.

The original Gutenberg Bible on display in the Danish Royal Library, or Black Diamond Library.

A tool simply allows us to do more good or more evil. If good people ignore AI, they will cede all the power of AI to those who will use it to do evil. Those evil people may even use AI to amplify the voices of people saying AI is evil in order to scare good people away from AI. 

As we like to say in Texas, “The only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.” Do you want only bad men to have guns? Do you want only evil corporations to use AI? 

Now that we know AI is a powerful tool, it behooves us to understand how it works, and how we can use it to do good in the world.

How can you use AI for good? 

AI Makes Writing Easier

Like the typewriter and word processor, AI democratizes writing, making it easier for more people to write.


AI can help you generate an outline for your novel. is an “intelligent outliner” built specifically for authors. You input the theme of your book, such as “decadence destroys society from within,” and Subtxt will generate a story outline for each scene following the hero’s journey or other outline template.

The AI-generated outline doesn’t replace you. You still need to guide the outline, but like a power tool, Subtxt removes some of the hard work. To use Subtxt, you still need to understand the fundamentals of story structure and have a message or theme you want to convey.


Tools like Sudowrite can help you brainstorm ideas for your book. I love the describe feature, which creates descriptions using all five senses. The describe feature can help make your writing more descriptive and stimulate creativity. 


The voice-to-text feature inside of MacOS is now shockingly good. It is the first transcription tool I’ve ever used that correctly transcribed the word “Umstattd.” Most humans can’t even spell Umstattd. In my initial test, it didn’t miss a single word. It also inserts commas, periods, and question marks. This free dictation tool is built into every Mac running MacOS 14 or newer. I hear the transcription in Windows 11 is also decent, but I haven’t tried it myself. 

Transcription allows you to rapidly create rough drafts by talking. No extra software is required. 

Many mobile apps also allow you to dictate on the go. I know one author who writes rough drafts while walking her dog through the woods. She narrates the story as she walks and uses AI to transcribe her narration into a rough draft when she gets home. 

AI Gives Big Tech Companies Control Over Your Access to Information 

For over a decade, we’ve been talking about the Facebook algorithm. “Algorithm” is just another word for AI. More specifically, it is an aspect of AI. Filtering algorithms are one of the worst uses of AI because they are typically outside of your knowledge and control. 

The Meta AI is trained to get and keep you addicted to Facebook and Instagram. It’s no wonder Facebook and Instagram use are linked to so many mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression

The Meta AI also tries to influence the narrative you use to interpret events in the news. Facts and perspectives that don’t fit Meta AI’s narrative are suppressed. If you are a Democrat, this probably doesn’t bother you, but if you are an Independent or Republican, it might. 

There is something delightfully hypocritical about an author posting to a Facebook group to complain about another author’s use of AI for writing a book. Every time you use Facebook, you are using AI—and not just any kind of AI; it’s the worst kind of censorious AI.

Remember that powerful corporations use AI to enrich and empower themselves at the expense of individual humans like us. Elon Musk refers to big corporations as a cybernetic collective because they use a combination of human and AI decision-making to operate. 

I advise people to get off Facebook and Instagram and spend more time outside interacting with people in real life.  

Part of the reason I created was to give authors an alternative online space to connect with each other away from Facebook’s censorious AI. 

AI Makes Editing Easier

While AI isn’t sophisticated enough to replace human editors, it has become very good at editing. 

Developmental Editing

A developmental edit provides feedback on the big-picture elements of your story. Developmental edits focus on characters and plot rather than words and grammar. (Affiliate Link) is an AI tool that generates a 30-page report about your book. 

It covers:

  • emotions 
  • pacing
  • overused phrases
  • frequency of adverbs and adjectives 
  • cliché usage
  • similar books 
  • dialogue to narrative ratio

The report can even break down character personality traits so you can see if you’ve differentiated your characters. doesn’t replace a human developmental editor. You’ll still need a human to give you feedback on the vibe of your book. But a human developmental editor won’t count every use of the word “very” or give you the percentage of dialogue used. An AI analysis can be a great supplement.  

Copy Editing

AI spelling and grammar checkers are now staggeringly good. The top two are Grammarly (Affiliate Link), which works best for nonfiction, and ProWritingAid (Affiliate Link), which works better for fiction. My one gripe with these spell checkers is that they try to push political correctness and gender politics into your writing regarding pronouns, gender inclusion, and whatnot. You can disable the political features in settings, but these settings are sometimes enabled by default. 

To be fair, many spell checkers in apps like Microsoft Word also have a political correctness mode. The difference is that Word typically toggles off political correctness mode by default. In fact, most of Word’s powerful grammar checker is disabled by default. 

This matters because most people never change the default settings. As they say in Silicon Valley, “The Devil is in the defaults.” He who controls the defaults controls the people. Freedom always requires an extra step.

Text to Speech

Listening to Siri read your book aloud is a great way to catch poorly worded sentences. If the words sing when read by an AI voice, they will sing in the minds of your readers. Every computer and phone now has text-to-speech functionality. Look for it in the accessibility section of your device. 

My episode with Angela Hunt, Beyond First Drafts: How to Master the Art of Revision With Angela Hunt, walks you through how to use text-to-speech for self-editing. 

AI Makes Publishing Easier

Image Creation

ChatGPT 4 and Midjourney can now create images. Even if a human designs your cover, it will likely have AI elements since Adobe Photoshop now includes many AI-powered features. I don’t know of any popular book covers made in the last year that didn’t include a little AI in their design.

We’ve all been using AI for decades, which is why AI disclaimers have been and will be ineffective. The horses have escaped. Closing the barn door will not return the horses to the barn.  

An AI mockup of your book cover could make it easier to communicate with your designer. For example, you might say, “I want a cover that looks like this but with the following tweaks.” I have some examples of what this could look like on

Some authors have seen success using mostly AI elements in their book covers. Check out our episode titled AI Book Covers & ChatGPT.

Blurbs & Summaries

Authors despise writing plot synopses, blurbs and log lines. If only there was a machine that could summarize your book for you. 

There is!

Sudowrite has a feature called Shrink Ray that can create a one-page synopsis or two-sentence logline for your book in just a few clicks. You won’t want to use the AI summary, but it’s much easier to edit an AI summary than to generate one on your own. 

AI Enables Reputation Theft

AI allows for a new scam called reputation theft, where scammers create a book that looks like the one you would write. Then, they create a pen name that is the same as or similar to yours.

Unsuspecting readers buy the scammer’s book, thinking you wrote it, when it’s actually AI-generated dreck. It hurts your reputation since readers think you wrote the book. 

Reputation theft is not an AI problem as much as it’s an Amazon problem. Amazon makes money from reputation theft and has done little to stop it. To learn how and when to protect yourself from reputation theft, listen to my episode, How to Protect Your Writing From Reputation Theft.

AI Will Change How People Experience Nonfiction Books

To explain the impact of AI on nonfiction, I want to take you through the four eras of nonfiction. My example for this journey will be the popular book What to Expect When You Are Expecting, which has evolved through these eras. 

Era #1: Stand Alone Book-1980s and Before

  • In 1984, the book What to Expect When You Are Expecting came out. Readers discovered it by browsing physical bookstores or by hearing about it from a friend. 
  • A chapter for each month of pregnancy, explaining you how your body is changing and how the baby is developing. 
  • The book itself was the full experience with the content. 

Era #2: Book Website-1990s

The book’s website functioned as

  • Promotion for the book
  • Companion for the book
  • Space where a community of readers to connect with each other. Before social media, readers would connect with each other on web forums hosted on the author’s website. These communities mostly moved to social media in the early 2010s.  

Era #3: Mobile App-2010s

  • Extension of the website experience onto phones
  • Pregnancy due date calculator 
  • Week-by-week pregnancy tracker 
  • Videos about what to expect during each week of pregnancy
  • Special community groups devoted to birth months and locations
  • Thousands of medically accurate articles
  • Search tools to help you find fast, accurate answers to your questions about pregnancy, parenting, and fertility.

Era #4: Chatbot-2020s

You can now train AI chatbots on nonfiction books, which readers can use to ask a book a question. The AI will answer based on what was written in the book. The chatbot allows readers to get answers to specific questions much faster than they could by reading the book cover to cover. They miss out on the context, but they also save time. What to Expect doesn’t offer a chatbot yet, but I expect it will soon. 

AI Enables Chatbots

I have been experimenting with chatbot technology myself. You can train a chatbot on podcast transcripts, and I’ve trained an AI model on ten years’ worth of Novel Marketing episodes and five years of Christian Publishing Show episodes.  I’m calling it AI Thomas.

The following are some examples of questions people have asked and the answers they’ve received from the chatbot. If you listen to the audio of this episode, the answers will be read in a deepfake version of my voice generated by Descript. 

An Interview With AI Thomas

How many books should I publish before advertising?

Chris Fox, whom I interviewed, believes that you need to have a series before you can run profitable Amazon ads. He doesn’t think you can profitably advertise a single book 1.1. James Blatch also suggests that you typically don’t make money until you have a series for readers to read through, with the first book not likely to make money, the second book starting to give some return on your advertising investment, and the third book potentially being your profitable moment 2.1. So, it would be wise to have at least a few books published, preferably in a series, before you invest heavily in advertising.

AI Thomas

This answer is impressive because the chatbot can differentiate between my advice and my guests’ advice. It also cites its sources so that you can read the blog posts that inspired the answer. 

What are the 10 commandments of book marketing?

Sorry, I don’t have a podcast episode on that topic.

AI Thomas

Interestingly, I have an episode with that exact title, but the wording is likely too religious. Anti-conservative and anti-religious biases are a problem with most large language models right now. Companies that run them often have few or no Republicans or evangelicals on staff. Many biases, whether explicit or implicit, get baked into the model. 

Watch what happens if we ask the question with slightly less religious language. 

What are the commandments of book marketing?

The 10 Commandments of Book Marketing, as I’ve outlined based on my experience working with bestselling authors, are essential principles that can guide you towards success in writing and publishing. Here are a few key commandments to consider:

1. Love thy reader as you love thy book – This is the most important commandment. You must care about your readers and write books that they want to read1.1.

2. Thou shalt write for thy reader, not for thyself – It’s crucial to focus on what will thrill your reader, even if it means cutting parts of the book you personally love1.2.

3. Thou shalt not be false to thine own brand – Your brand is the culmination of all the other commandments, and staying true to it is essential for long-term success1.3.

These commandments are not a step-by-step plan but rather guidelines that, if followed, can lead to the freedom to try many things and potentially become a bestselling author1.4. If you’re interested in learning more about each of the commandments, I can provide further details or direct you to resources that can help you delve deeper into the topic.

AI Thomas

How can I access a list of recommended craft books?

AI Thomas gives a list of 12 books that have been recommended at one point or another on one of my podcasts. I’ve never done an episode specifically on craft books. Often, I or a guest will recommend a book while talking about a specific topic. The AI model can find those isolated recommendations and compile them into a list. 

You can find a list of recommended craft books in several of the resources I’ve been involved with. For instance, in the Christian Publishing Show, we’ve discussed various craft books that can help you improve your writing. Here are some of the craft books that have been recommended:

  • “Writing Screenplays That Sell” by Michael Hague 1.1
  • “Story” by Robert McKee 1.1
  • “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King 1.1
  • “Writing Successful Self-Help and How-To Books” 2.1
  • “Made to Stick” by Dan & Chip Heath 2.1
  • “Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors” by Kathy Ide 2.1
  • “Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors” 2.1
  • “Writer to Writer: Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing” 2.1
  • “Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days” 2.1
  • “Plot & Structure” by James Scott Bell 3.1
  • “Getting into Character” by Brandilyn Collins 3.1
  • “The Story Equation” by Susan May Warren 3.1

Additionally, the Christian Writers Market Guide is a comprehensive resource that can help you find more than just craft books; it includes listings for agents, publishers, and other writing resources

AI Thomas

(In the AI Thomas chatbot answers, the numbers are citations linked to the episode blog post where the book recommendation is found.)

Bottom Line

The AI horses are out of the barn, and closing the doors now won’t do any good. Ignoring AI won’t make it go away, and neither will government regulations. If the government can’t stop drugs or guns that can be seen, how can it stop an invisible technology everyone has been using for decades?   

The Anti-AI Butlerian Jihad is not coming. No one really wants to go back to a pre-computer world. 

Moral panic over new technologies is common. I remember the moral panic over pagers in the 1990s when the media convinced parents that pagers would turn kids into drug dealers. 

To be fair, AI is more dangerous than pagers ever were. But the most dangerous AIs are the ones used by big corporations to get you addicted to their platforms. 

I’m too much of a Texan to let a powerful and dangerous tool be used only by those who want to do evil. As long as the bad guys have guns, I’m going to own guns to protect my family. As long as big tech uses AI to advance its interests, I’m going to use AI to advance mine. If it’s going to exist, I want to use it for good. 

Sure, you can use AI to censor your fellow humans and control their speech. But you can also use it to help you rapidly write amazing books that bless millions of people. You can use it to become more productive, which gives you more time to spend with your family. 

As a human being, you have the power to do good or evil. You have a conscience. Deep down, you know right from wrong. You know whether your actions are good or evil. 

I hope and pray that as you grow in power, you use your new-found abilities to do good and make the world a better place. Use your writing to point readers to what is good, true, and beautiful. Change the world with writing worth talking about. 


AI Writing Summit: April 8-12, 2024

If you want more help learning how to use AI, check out the AI Writing Summit (Affiliate Link). 

The AI Writing Summit (Affiliate Link) is created by writers for writers who want to future-proof their writing careers.

This event includes over 90 world-class authors, writers, marketing experts, and developers to help you use AI to get more done in less time. 

Learn how to:

  • 🎙️ ‘Write’ by speaking
  • 💨 Speed up content creation
  • 💡 Generate new ideas quickly
  • ✨ Polish your writing in seconds
  • 📝 Write marketing copy like a pro
  • 🔄 Repurpose your content in a flash
  • 📋 Outline your next project in minutes
  • 📚 Create a book description in no time
  • 🤖 Automate your social media marketing
  • 📧 Create a marketing strategy and email funnel

I’m one of the 90+ speakers and I will be talking about how to use AI to make podcasting faster and easier. The AI Writing Summit (Affiliate Link) is free to attend live, and the recordings can be purchased for a reasonable price. 

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