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Writers' News

Publishing scammers are using AI to scale their grifts

vox.com – Sunday August 13, 2023

AI is, in theory, poised to disrupt work as we know it now. But it’s still facing the same problem every buzzy new tech product before it has faced: The VC funding is there, but the long-term business model is not, particularly for individuals. What do you do with a large language model AI at this stage, when all you know for sure is that it will produce text to order, in varying degrees of accuracy?

One fairly straightforward response is to try to sell that text. Preferably, you would want to sell it someplace where it doesn’t matter whether it’s accurate or not, or even where inaccuracy could become fiction and hence valuable: the book market. The book market is also, conveniently, the last textual medium where users are still in the habit of paying directly (even just a tiny bit). Publishing is currently the weak point that bad-faith AI users are trying to infiltrate.

Legally speaking, you can’t sell AI-generated text, because text generated by machines is not subject to copyright (with some exceptions). Nevertheless, the scammers and grifters who circulate along publishing’s underbelly are integrating AI into their existing scams and grifts. Publishers are reportedly investigating ways of using AI in discreet, closed-door meetings. And authors are on the alert for anything that looks like a smoking gun to take down what many of them believe to be an existential threat to their craft.

[Read the full article]

An author says AI is ‘writing’ unauthorized books being sold under her name on Amazon

edition.cnn.com – Thursday August 10, 2023

An author is raising alarms this week after she found new books being sold on Amazon under her name — only she didn’t write them; they appear to have been generated by artificial intelligence.

Jane Friedman, who has authored multiple books and consulted about working in the writing and publishing industry, told CNN that an eagle-eyed reader looking for more of her work bought one of the fake titles on Amazon. The books had titles similar to the subjects she typically writes about, but the text read as if someone had used a generative AI model to imitate her style.

“When I started looking at these books, looking at the opening pages, looking at the bio, it was just obvious to me that it had been mostly, if not entirely, AI-generated … I have so much content available online for free, because I’ve been blogging forever, so it wouldn’t be hard to get an AI to mimic me” Friedman said.

With AI tools like ChatGPT now able to rapidly and cheaply pump out huge volumes of convincing text, some writers and authors have raised alarms about losing work to the new technology. Others have said they don’t want their work being used to train AI models, which could then be used to imitate them.

[Read the full article]

Steed moves to Janklow & Nesbit

thebookseller.com – Thursday August 10, 2023

Hayley Steed is joining Janklow & Nesbit as a literary agent on 12th September, moving from Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency, where she has been since 2016.

Steed represents predominantly fiction writers, with clients including Clare Pooley, Alex Wilson, Leah Hazard, Heather Marshall and Yomi Adegoke. She was named a Bookseller Rising Star in 2019.

Steed said: “I’ve had such an incredible seven years at Madeleine Milburn. Being part of its growth from a team of four to the powerhouse it is now has been invaluable, as has working with Maddy herself. I’m going to miss the team there hugely, but am also excited for my next step at Janklow & Nesbit, where I know my authors will be welcomed and well supported. I can’t wait to find new talent. And to grow the commercial fiction list with my new colleagues.”

[Read the full article]

Publisher Simon & Schuster sold to private equity firm for £1.27bn

news.sky.com – Tuesday August 8, 2023

The sale of the publisher, which counts Stephen King and Britney Spears among its diverse portfolio of writers, comes after a US judge blocked a previous takeover attempt by rival Penguin Random House.

Simon & Schuster has been sold for $1.62bn (£1.27bn) to a private equity firm - just months after a takeover bid by rival Penguin Random House was blocked.

New owner KKR said the company, one of the so-called "big five" English language book publishers worldwide, would continue to operate as a standalone entity and vowed that its independence would be protected.

The deal must be approved by regulators, but commentators believe it is unlikely there will be any objections.

Simon & Schuster's writers include horror author Stephen King and journalist Bob Woodward. It is also preparing for the high-profile releases of Britney Spears' memoir The Woman In Me and Walter Isaacson's biography of Elon Musk later this year.

It comes after Penguin Random House, which is owned by German media giant Bertelsmann, announced in November 2020 that it planned to buy Simon & Schuster for £1.9bn.

[Read the full article]

Writers' Handbook 2024 now available to buy

firstwriter.com – Tuesday August 8, 2023

The 2024 edition of firstwriter.com’s annual directory for writers has just been released, and is now available to buy both as a paperbook and an ebook.

The directory is the perfect book for anyone searching for literary agents, book publishers, or magazines. It contains over 1,500 listings, including revised and updated listings from the 2023 edition, and 400 brand new entries.

[Read the full article]

New crime writing prize launched by A M Heath, Orion and Crime Monthly

thebookseller.com – Friday August 4, 2023

A M Heath literary agency, the Orion Publishing Group and Crime Monthly have teamed up to launch Criminal Lines 2023, a new £3,500 crime writing prize open to unagented, debut authors, born or resident in the UK and Ireland.

From psychological thrillers, cosy crime to serial killer thrillers, entrants are invited to submit the opening 5,000 words of a novel with “criminal intent”, plus a synopsis of no more than 1,000 words here.

Entries open on 3rd August 2023 and close on 7th December 2023. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges including A M Heath agents Euan Thorneycroft and Oli Munson, Crime Monthly assistant editor Lisa Howells, Orion Fiction editors Leodora Darlington and Sam Eades, and authors Vaseem Khan and Mari Hannah.

[Read the full article]

Penzler Publishers is launching Crime Ink

lunch.publishersmarketplace.com – Friday August 4, 2023

Penzler Publishers is launching Crime Ink, an imprint publishing literary true crime. Tom Wickersham will head the line as editor; he was formerly the manager of The Mysterious Bookshop. Charles Perry becomes publisher, adding to his role as publisher of other Penzler imprints (The Mysterious Press, American Mystery Classics, Scarlet, and MysteriousPress.com).

[Read the full article]

Mundy launches Lansdowne Literary

thebookseller.com – Tuesday August 1, 2023

Charlie Mundy has launched a new London-based literary scouting agency, Lansdowne Literary.

With a focus on the UK and international reach, it will work across fiction and non-fiction aiming to connect international publishers and film and TV production companies with the most suitable books for their individual lists, across translation and adaptation.

The agency has already secured its first clients, working with international publishers including Arche and Atrium Verlag – both part of W1-Media GmbH – in Germany, and HarperCollins Holland. 

[Read the full article]

Canadian Writers, Visual Artists and Publishers Lose the Ability to Have Their Rights and Interests Protected as Federal Government Fails to Deliver on its Promise to Fix Canada's Publishing Marketplace

newca.com – Saturday July 29, 2023

- Access Copyright's Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to initiate a significant downsizing and restructuring of the organization due to the federal government's decade-long inaction in fixing Canada's publishing marketplace -

Due to changes in fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act, since 2012, Canadian writers, visual artists, and publishers - an indispensable part of Canada's culture - have been deprived of over $200 million in unpaid royalties under tariffs certified by the Copyright Board of Canada.

This staggering figure is among the many impacts, including job losses and several educational publishers stepping away from the K-12 or post-secondary markets, that have hit Canadian creators and publishers since amendments to Canada's Copyright Act were enacted in 2012.

The mass, systemic free copying of creators' works by Canada's education sector outside of Quebec since 2012 has led to Access Copyright's total distributions to rightsholders dropping by 79%.

It has also led to the start of the hollowing out of Access Copyright - a key piece of Canada's cultural infrastructure that Canadian creators and publishers rely on to be fairly compensated for the use of their work.

[Read the full article]

Prototype Publishing announces development programme for writers and artists

thebookseller.com – Wednesday July 26, 2023

Prototype Publishing has announced a development programme for writers and artists, in partnership with New Writing North, as part of the Northern Writers’ Awards.

The Prototype Development Programme will offer extended support and career development to eight emerging writers and artists who have not yet had a book published. According to the publisher, the scheme is being launched in response to the lack of opportunities and mentoring schemes for writers and artists whose work "sits between conventional literary forms".

Funded by Arts Council England, the six-month online programme forms part of a wider project focusing on multidisciplinary and hybrid-genre approaches to writing, including a new prize in partnership with Frieze magazine, which will be announced in the autumn.

Participants will be given learning and personal development opportunities through workshops and feedback sessions, as well as seminars led by curators, writers, publishers, editors and literary agents. There are eight places on the programme, of which three are ring-fenced for applicants from the North of England, and each participant will be paid a bursary of £500.

[Read the full article]

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