One of my editors told me that, in the wake of ChatGPT, my days as a ghostwriter are numbered. He was joking. I think!
But it did get me thinking about the rise of ghostwriting AI. In particular, what can ghostwriters learn from AI to make our own services more attractive to anyone looking to write their life story. Let’s find out…
Is there an AI ghostwriting service that will help you write your life story?
To find out what ghostwriter AI options are out there for anyone writing a life story or autobiography, I did the sensible thing and asked an AI.
I looked at a few different AI options and selected Anyword. (Seeing as I sampled their service, it’s only fair that I give them this plug.)
I started out by asking:
How do you get a lifetime of memories and stories into print using AI?
Anyword told me to choose an AI autobiography tool or service to suit my needs and budget. It explained that once I’d done that, I’d be asked to input some information about my life story: name, birth date, major life events, accomplishments, and other relevant details. With that, the tool would use algorithms and natural language processing to analyse and organize the information into a cohesive narrative. It said it could also scan social media and online sources to collect additional details about your life.
The overall process sounded a bit generic, and unsurprisingly, rather mechanical, but in the interests of testing it all out, I wanted to know which AI autobiography tool I should use?
Things took an interesting turn here. Anyword suggested there were several AI autobiography tools and services out there, ranging from ‘AI Autobiography’ (which I searched for, but couldn’t find) through to what it described as ‘other AI autobiography tools and services’ including the likes of Story Terrace. In case you don’t know, Story Terrace uses human writers – I should know, I’m one of them. And while they may well move to incorporate more AI into their service over time, they’re still judged on the success of their human writers and editors as things stand!
Can an AI ghostwriter beat a human ghostwriter? The answer – according to AI…
Anyword was refreshingly honest in its assessment of the relative value of humans versus artificial intelligence in this field, saying, ‘some services are more affordable than others, but may have limited customization options or rely heavily on AI-generated content. On the other hand, more expensive services may offer a more personalized experience with human writers and editors involved in the process.’
So, there you have it: according to AI, your best bet for getting help writing your autobiography is a human. That’s reassuring to hear.
What’s wrong with AI ghostwriting?
Seeing as we’re on the subject, what is it about the kind of service Anyword described that worried me?
I mentioned the mechanised accumulation of facts. Your autobiography or memoir shouldn’t just be a succession of events set in a chronological framework. While AI ghostwriting software can very easily take your input and turn the events of the life you describe into formal prose, there are a lot of things an AI ghostwriting service can’t do for you:
- It can’t get under the skin of your stories and provide any deeper insight.
- It can’t ask the questions that a ghostwriter would ask to dig a little deeper into your stories.
- It can’t convey the emotional journey your life has taken you on.
Can writing an autobiography with an AI ghostwriting service save you time?
I’m not sure it can.
- You’ll still have to spend hours inputting the relevant information you want the AI ghostwriter to work with.
- You’ll potentially have to spend even longer adding or deleting details as needed, correcting any inaccuracies, weeding out repetition, and humanising the content.
- Somehow, you’ll have to make everything sound like you wrote it.
For the time it takes to do all of that, I suspect you’d be much better off working with a human ghostwriter.
Let’s say you want to tell your life story in around 30,000 words. A ghostwriter would spend something like 10-12 hours interviewing you. That time could be divided up into a couple of days of interviews or spread out over a few weeks, depending on your preference.
Your ghostwriter will extract an awful lot more of your story than a ghostwriter AI. They’ll unpick the stories behind the stories, and uncover the emotions that make your story sing.
And after those interviews have been completed, you won’t have to do anything else until your first draft manuscript is ready to review. That manuscript will arrive in exemplary shape. You won’t need to rewrite anything to make it sound more human. You won’t have to edit out extraneous information or repetition.
Your manuscript will be written with full understanding of structure and pacing, and full of the heart, humour, and depth your story deserves. It will be shaped and structured like a book written for curious readers; full of cliffhangers, foreshadowing and satisfying narrative payoffs. That’s all part and parcel of what a human ghostwriter gives you.
AI ghostwriting is not the solution… yet
You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve been sounding a bit paranoid. Maybe I watched and read too many cautionary tales of artificial intelligence and robots running amok as a child! The fact is that I’m not overly worried about AI ghostwriting putting me out of a job. I’m am slightly worried that AI writing is going to churn out a lot of disappointing material.
But let’s not fool ourselves, the technology is only going to improve. While AI-generated autobiographies may not yet be able to capture the nuance and emotion that a human ghostwriter can capture, I think the facility to enter a string of personal and biographical information which will then be turned into a cohesive narrative will come. (If it already does exist, feel free to point me in its direction.)
What can a human ghostwriter do to stay future-proof?
For me as a freelance ghostwriter, I want to know what I can do to stay ahead of the AI tide.
I think the answer is to try and offer you some of the advantages of AI ghostwriting without any of the failings…
Let’s leave aside the fact that manuscripts written by AI ghostwriters and experienced freelance ghostwriters are going to be leagues apart in terms of quality. Here are the big three reasons why I think you will want to work with me in preference to an AI ghostwriter:
Tiered pricing for your book
Let’s face it, one of the big advantage for anyone looking for AI ghostwriting help them write their life story is the cost. Paying a freelance ghostwriter for the many hours of work they’ll put into writing your book is going to cost a bit more than signing upto an AI ghostwriting service.
However, I think my tiered options for ghostwriting services give you a good range of affordable ghostwriting options, starting from a ‘just-the-words’ option – no design or print costs included. And if you decide to use my ghostwriting service, tell me you’ve read this article to get another 5% off the price of your book!
My writing nous
In jazz circles they say the notes you don’t play are as important as the ones you do play. And when you work with me as your ghostwriter, you’ll get the benefit of all the words I leave out! That’s not as trite as it may sound.
AI will regurgitate what you tell it; I won’t. I may suggest omitting some material or question the reasons behind the inclusion of other material – all in the interests of telling the best possible version of your life story.
Good old fashioned human connection
As well as all of the ghostwriting nous and writing skills you get from me and from other professional ghostwriters there’s something else…
It isn’t just nicer and more efficient to work with someone on your book, it makes the writing better. I will ask you searching questions. I will take you off on the occasional digression, and I will push you to think deeply about some of the moments that have mattered in your life – all in the cause of making your book more involving for your readers.
Don’t forget your 5% off ghostwriting!
If you’d like to choose this all-too-human ghostwriter over an AI ghostwriter, take a look at my ghostwriting pricing guide, then book a ghostwriting consultation. Don’t forget to tell me that you’ve read this article to get 5% off the price of your ghostwriting.