"It makes me look like I’m trying to take advantage of people with really crappy books."
Author Jane Friedman was furious after discovering roughly a dozen books being sold on Amazon — with her name on them.
In an interview with The Guardian, Friedman recounted how the viral debacle began. A reader contacted her about the phony titles that mimicked her real work, which is ironically designed to help new authors navigate the publishing industry with titles like "The Business of Being a Writer" and "Publishing 101."
These fraudulent books, which had titles like "How to Write and Publish an eBook Quickly and Make Money" and "Igniting Ideas: Your Guide to Writing a Bestseller eBook on Amazon," were unsurprisingly troubling to the author, whose whole career is built upon providing advice.
"It makes me look like I’m trying to take advantage of people with really crappy books," she told The Guardian.
Writing in the Name
Though unable to completely verify her strong suspicion, the author believes the "terrible" copy of the books reads like AI because, as she wrote on her blog, she has "used these AI tools extensively to test how well they can reproduce my knowledge" and had even done "vanity prompting" by asking AI to write in her style.
"I’ve been blogging since 2009 — there’s a lot of my content publicly available for training AI models," Friedman wrote. "As soon as I read the first pages of these fake books, it was like reading ChatGPT responses I had generated myself."
Take It Down
Confident that the phony books were "if not wholly generated by AI, then at least mostly generated by AI," Friedman submitted a takedown request to Amazon and was initially denied because, as a company spokesperson told her, she hadn't trademarked her name.
Curiously enough, Amazon and Goodreads both took the fraudulent titles down after the story began gaining traction online. An Amazon spokesperson told The Guardian and The Daily Beast in identical statements that the company has "clear content guidelines governing which books can be listed for sale" and that it "promptly investigate[s] any book when a concern is raised."
"I’m sure [the titles were removed] in no small part due to my visibility and reputation in the writing and publishing community," Friedman wrote on her blog. "What will authors with smaller profiles do when this happens to them?"
The entire saga, though undoubtedly taxing, has had one silver lining for Friedman.
"I am revisiting my key book, 'The Business of Being a Writer,' and I am going to have a section on AI," she told The Daily Beast. "At least now I will have a good story to include."
More on AI writing: G/O Tells Staff Not to Worry About Everyone Mocking Their Horrible AI Content
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