SPS-402: How to Use A.I. in Your Marketing – with Mark Dawson & James Blatch

AI tools are highly controversial yet beginning to make waves in creative industries. With facebook advertizing leaning into AI ads, and Amazon KDP changing their terms to disclose the use of generative AI in your published works. Mark and James have a chat about AI, their perspectives, and what they do and don’t use.

Show Notes

  • The Ads for authors course.
  • Ethics of AI.
  • Machine learning versus generative AI.
  • KDP’s new AI guidelines.
  • AI tools Mark and James use.

Resources mentioned in this episode:


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How to Use A.I. in Your Marketing - with Mark Dawson & James Blatch

Speaker 1: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show,

Mark Dawson: It is a very fast-changing and dizzying in some senses area of the creative arts. Your Honour, it took me a while to come towards it. I'm not an early adopt and it's Joe.

James Blatch: Joe Penn finds it hilarious that you've been cynical about AI for years and then suddenly along with everybody else,

Mark Dawson: Aspects. The thing is, I'm usually right.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers. No one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing? Join indie bestseller Mark Dawson and first time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello and welcome to The Self-Publishing Show with me James Blatch

Mark Dawson: And me Mark Dawson. Just turning in my headphones now because you shouted my ear then it was very loud.

James Blatch: I'm quiet in my ear. Got to protect your hearing as you get older.

Hello Mark. How are you?

Mark Dawson: I'm sweating. It's very hot. For those who don't know or we are listening in the future, summer has arrived, summer arrived in June, bug it off for two months and now has come back with a vengeance. It is really hot today in Salisbury and well everywhere in the uk really? So probably, I'm going to say my office is 31 degrees, so degrees at the moment and I've had to switch my fan off. It's too noisy. So these are the sacrifices I make for my listeners. Have

James Blatch: To suffer for show business.

Mark Dawson: Do pleasure.

James Blatch: Well listen, this is going out on September the 16th I think. So that is a week tomorrow from where we're recording it. So everything could be different, could be cold. But you and I are heading to Sunny climbs because the day after this goes out I hopefully we'll be on a jet to Miami and then we're going up to Boston to meet BookBub and have a couple of meetings up there. Then we're coming back to Tampa for nnc. However, there is of course a hurricane. His name is Lee. I think it's a male lee. It's currently heading towards just south of Bermuda and the tracks. There's one guy called Spaghetti Weather, I think he's called himself.

Mark Dawson: Yes, I remember games last year. Yeah.

James Blatch: So he doesn't, and one of the tracks has it going into Florida and one of the tracks has it going up to Nova Scotia and then there's a lot in between. So almost anywhere it could go. It could go to anywhere we're going Miami, Boston, anywhere in between. How

Mark Dawson: Exciting. I did see

James Blatch: It might be what they call a fish hurricane where it goes out to sea. Stop

Mark Dawson: Interrupting me please. I was talking, I remember I saw today because the ocean, the broken records for the temperature of water this year, and I think this is probably kind of just not true, but they were predicting potential 170 mile an hour winds, which would be the worst ever. So it's perfect. I'm perfect of us to be going.

James Blatch: There is also a monster hurricane I think the one this season in the Pacific. Yeah, yeah,

Mark Dawson: I sure

James Blatch: Could go to California. So anyway, hopefully we'll avoid that. Our travel will be uninterrupted. We got caught up in a hurricane last year you, but yeah, we're looking forward to catching up with Bob, be my first time visiting their offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And then we're looking forward to nnc and you get a chance to come and say hello and we'll buy you a drink and you can press the flesh as I believe the expression is. If you want to join us, we will be in St. Pete's Beach in Florida near Tampa on Wednesday the 20th of September from about 7:00 PM in a place called Jimmy B's Beach Bar, Jimmy B's. Basically it's a beach bar named after me and it's a very short,

Mark Dawson: Probably Jimmy Buffett would be my guess

James Blatch: Maybe or maybe the owner. It's a short walk along the beach from the venue, from the Tradewinds Hotel. We can't go into the Shark Tooth Tavern cause it is closed, but we'll be at Jimmy B's beach bar, which is a nice beach bar. We've been there a few times in the past and it's a cool place. There'll be a bit of live music. Come and say hello and we'll have a chat.

Mark Dawson: Not from us.

James Blatch: No thank goodness. We also have a webinar coming up on the 27th of September. We are going to have a special treat because a man who wrote the book on Amazon advertising, Ricardo Fayette, is going to present his breakdown on the effective use of the Amazon ads platform. Very important platform for those of us self-publishing. That is a free live event, free live training and you can sign up and register for that. If you go to self-publishing webinar, all one word, self-publishing webinar. That'll be Ricardo and you for certain maybe me, I think I'm, no, hopefully I'm still in Florida at that point. I'm been blown away. I might join from there, but otherwise it'll be the main treats will be Ricardo. And on top of all of that, the ads for authors course is open for business ads for authors, which is a significant milestone course.

I mean I kind of treat myself as an alumni of the Ads for authors course because I've been successful with my books and with Fuse books. I've learnt the methodology that you painfully discovered by yourself and then we have kept that course incredibly up to date. It is the most comprehensive, wide ranging detailed dynamic and I think the best online course for self-publishing author on the planet. Lot people will agree with that, who've taken it. We would say that. I know, but there's lots and lots of alumni of students pages and pages of people saying how valuable they found the course. It is open for enrollment, same price as last time, and you can find out more if you go to self-publishing for authors. And we have a new edition, a new module.

We're always adding things to it and what are we adding to it this time? Mark?

Mark Dawson: We are adding something on ai so we couldn't really ignore it anymore. It's AI marketing for authors. So we are focusing notes on,

James Blatch: Was it AI ads for authors?

Mark Dawson: I remember what, yes, that's right. AI ads for authors. Yeah, so it is focusing on using AI to help us with our marketing. So it is an interesting, very, very interesting area that is moving quite fast and there's things we have to talk about that happened the last couple of days, but just before we dive into that, so things, Amazon's position and that kind of thing, it is going to show you how we are using AI to assist with advertising. So things like images. So if you're testing dynamic creative ads and you want lots of different variations, it's convenient to be able to generate those yourself and the quality is really fantastic. Some of those images that you've done very well with that, I'm toying around with it as well. And also things like chat g p T for ad copy, so variations on headlines, tags, primary for Facebook ads, all of that kind of stuff.

It's really good. It's not going to give you a polished copy that you can use without any kind of intervention, but it will give you some really helpful starting points. So we'll talk about that in a moment. And then also not really ai, more kind of machine learning, but it is all coming out of the same field. It's whether and how much we can trust Facebook to do the advertising for us. So how much can we afford to let Facebook just go on and run campaigns without our involvement? So again, we'll talk about this as we go through the episode. There is a bit of a movement at the moment and I do have some thoughts on it and some cautionary words to say about it, but there is a thought process developing that we can let Facebook do all of it for us and Facebook is definitely moving in that direction with things like Advantage Creative and Advantage budgeting and all of that kind of stuff.

Advantage is basically the label they've given the facility to let it do most of it for you. Generally I would say it's a good way for Facebook to try and make you spend more money, but we will get onto all of that, but we couldn't really ignore it. So I have been doing some testing on very, very hands-off marketing using Facebook and we can talk about that and there will be a module on that in the course which we will update. So one thing as you say we do try to do is keep things up to date. And this is not a super extensive course. The AI adds course, the main course is huge, but this is a smaller little module. But I think our intention is to add to it as we discover new things as the platform gets better, as other uses for AI in marketing become more widespread, we'll add things on as we test them and find success. Because one thing we don't do is use things that we don't think work because of what would be the point. I'm not going to teach you something that doesn't work, so we'll keep that up to date, but there we are. That's the run through the,

so should we jump into the general?

James Blatch: I definitely want to circle back to the Facebook ads things and we also forget to come back to that after we've talked more ai. So there's no interview today. We are just going to be discussing AI such an I importance and significant and fast changing area that is going to change many aspects of the way self-publishing operates in the same way that's changing aspects of many other industries. I don't know,

do we want to do a little ethics thing first before we do anything else?

I mean you can talk about this, some people are just vehemently opposed to it in our community and maybe some readers are as well. Any sort of touch of AI at any stage in the process is met with I think probably a dwindling minority, but nonetheless a significant one who just are anti the idea of ai. And I think we're past that point, aren't we? I

Mark Dawson: Don't know if it's a minority or not. I think it is a real, it's hard to say. I don't know never really looked at it. But there are groups now quite big groups on Facebook of authors discussing AI in a positive way. But we posted last night some stuff into the Facebook SS P Facebook group that from Amazon on their developing policy on ai. And I told, who did I tell? I think we posted it. No, actually we sent out an email yesterday or it was yesterday about the webinar that we're doing on ai, which will have happened as this goes out. So you can't attend that particular webinar. But I just said to Tom, we sent the email out, there will be some customer service issues to deal with because we will get people saying, what are you doing? And lo and behold, there were emails, a couple of emails coming in decrying the fact that we are talking about it, which is I don't agree with that, but it's an opinion I suppose, and you have to be polite to people. But ignoring it and pretending that it can be reversed is foolish and

James Blatch: At some level AI is going to be involved in lots of everyday things that you are doing. You won't be able to avoid it. So at that point, so I suppose, I mean Dan Wood, I interviewed him last week and he pointed out that when you upload your manuscript for about a decade now, K D P has used a level of AI to look at your manuscript and work out whether it needs a human intervention for them to stop it being published and then come back to you for various reasons. And they wouldn't be able to do self-publishing without that because to have a bank of humans looking at every manuscript that came in is just not feasible. So it's that little bit of AI machine learning has opened up.

Mark Dawson: I It's true. I think it's more, there is a distinction with drawn between very simple, I say simple with air quotes. They're simple machine learning and generative ai. They are different things. What we're talking about here that's not controversial, but I think what is controversial is using generative AI to produce something, an asset that is new like an image or text, a paragraph of text that didn't exist before. That's my distinction. That's also, interestingly that is what Amazon's position is. It's assisting or creating is basically the distinction. So you should probably mention that. So start with Amazon. I got an email from Amazon from the K D B team last night asking if we'd post into our community just to let people know that there has been a change to their guidelines on submission through the platform. And I had actually seen that someone who stumbled upon it by when uploading something like half an hour before, I think it was Amanda Lee had posted about it. And then the other groups, the AI authors groups I in, they were already discussing it. So it was, the news broke quite quickly. It was in 20 books quite quickly as well. I think Craig had an email from Amazon too. So we posted it and I had a look at the two links or the pieces of text. I think it's probably worth just going through those if you read the announcement and then the guidelines. It is not very long, but it's quite useful to have that read out I think.

James Blatch: Yeah, so first of all, the announcement is from K D P. This is their words. Its words. We are actively monitoring the rapid evolution of generative AI and the impact it's having on reading, writing, and publishing. And we remain committed to providing the best possible shopping, reading, and publishing experience for our authors and customers. To that end beginning today, when you publish a new title or make edits and republish an existing title through K D P, you will be asked whether your content is AI generated. Learn more about how we define AI generated content here, and that's what Mark's going to talk about in a moment because that's obviously crucial to this. As always, whether publishers make use of AI technologies or not, all books in our store must adhere to our K D P content guidelines and you therefore, that's basically saying that you have to correctly answer, truthfully, answer the questions whether content is AI generated.

We continue to keep the interest of authors, publishers, and readers at the forefront of our thinking and decision-making. Now, before you go onto the definition of what AI is in KD P'S minds, we should just say that Darren's email to us last night did ask for feedback and say, if you have a strong opinion on this or opinion on the stance that KDP has taken, you can certainly feed that backfire our Facebook group and we will filter those down and make sure that Darren, who's the head of K D P in the UK gets to hear your views. But Mark, that's the top line.

You've basically got to declare whether your content is AI generated, but what actually is AI generation?

Mark Dawson: So if you then go over to the help page and it says headline AI content, text images or translation. So first of all, it's going to say the main question I saw was people suggesting it didn't cover book covers. Now that would make no sense to me. Logically it has to, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. So I don't really understand why people were thinking that, but apparently John Doppler ally had some communication with someone at Amazon. It could be a customer service person. I don't know saying that covers weren't included, which I think is wrong. That may have been, I've asked for clarification on that and that's probably been dealt with by the time this goes out. But so I would say assume that it does cover covers because it would make little sense of it didn't. So Amazon say, we require you to inform us of AI generated content, text images or translations.

When you publish a new book or make edits and republish an existing book through K D P, you're not required to disclose AI assisted content. So just kind of stop there. The distinction, therefore is generation and assistance. So that's our first point. And then AI generation is defined as text images or translations created by an AI based tool. If you use an AI based tool to create the actual content, whether text, images or translations, it is considered AI generated even if you applied substantial edits afterwards. And then AI assisted, if you created the content yourself and used AI-based tools to edit, refine, error, check or otherwise improve that content, whether text or images, then it is considered AI assisted and not generated. Similarly, if you use an AI-based tool to brainstorm and generate ideas, but ultimately created the textile images yourself, this is also considered assisted and not generated.

It's not necessarily to inform us of the use of such tools or processes. So then they finished with you are responsible for verifying that all AI generated and or AI assisted content adheres to all content guidelines. That's just generally, for example, to confirm an AI based tool did not create content based on cooperated works, you're required to review and edit any AI tool outputs. So that's interesting because content copyright law is changing all the time and will change based on this. That's probably, that's a different question for another podcast, but the distinction between generation and assistance, and you can break it down even more simply than that is if you wrote the words or if you designed the cover in the traditional sense, that would be seen as, and then you use say pre-writing aid, for example, to go over your text or arguably generative film for sure.

I think that's arguable, but that might be seen as assisted and not generated. But if you are asking Chet g p t to write you a paragraph and then that's the basis, that paragraph is in the basis of something you put in your novel, then that is generated. And if you are generating it, there is a tick box now that you need to tick and you tick it and say, yes, this AI was involved in this creation. Now the question which we don't have an answer to yet is what happens to things that have been ticked? Again, this might have been teased out a bit by the time this goes live, but as we are recording it, I don't know what consequences that would have. It might be, my guess would be at some point a little flag will appear on your sales page saying AO is involved in the creation of this book.

So the reader knows that's possible. I mean you could also say if the law changes and copyright law changes on an image and you've said the image, if something was involved and AI was involved in the creation of the image, then that would give Amazon a pretty easy way to sweep those up. I also think, and I think I should say, I think this is a pretty good start by Amazon. I think they've done a really good job in working this out because it's really difficult and I think they have to cover themselves and I think this is a good first attempt at doing that.

And I think one of the things, they're always fighting to stay ahead of scammers. So it's kind of like, I've discussed this with some fairly senior Amazon people before and it's kind of like there's a hole in the fence. A rabbit has made a hole in the fence, they patch up that hole, but the rabbit's really clever and it goes further down the fence makes another hole. So they have to patch that hole and they're always patching holes and the scammers are always finding other ways through the fence. So it's a continuing battle for Amazon to do this. And it wasn't that long ago. Well, Jane Freeman had a problem with some AI assisted generating whatever scammer who used her name on garbage books. And before that, I remember not too long ago one of the subcategories, a fairly big one was filled with AI generated books over a weekend. It's usually on a weekend when they know Amazon won't be as quick to take things down. Understandably, they need time off and I think Amazon are giving themselves an easier way to sweep up that kind of nonsense and get it off the store, which that's be honest. That's not just good for readers, that's also good for authors.

James Blatch: Yes, it is. And I completely agree. I think it's a really good start by Amazon. The fundamental principles are sound in that if it's generated by ai, it should be declared if you're using AI tools to help you in a sort of perfunctory manner, it doesn't have to be declared. But there are of course lots of unknown, there are questions as well as

Mark Dawson: Answered consequences.

James Blatch: Yeah, yeah.

I mean exactly how it's going to be displayed to readers is an important one or are they actually simply going to stop?

I mean it's a very one or zero because if you, in the course of writing a hundred thousand word novel, have four or five paragraphs in there, which are word for word what chat, g p t, spat out, and you didn't change them, you would have to tick that box and say AI generated. Now

Mark Dawson: That's the next question is a lot of authors in the AI group I was observing last night said they just wouldn't tick the box. So they might use ai. I definitely saying you should do that. I think personally I don't use AI for actual creation. I do the writing myself. I don't have a big problem with people who do use it. I think that's fine, but I think if you don't tick the box, people say, well, how

James Blatch: You're breaching the terms if you don't tick the box.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, you are. Absolutely. Then how would Amazon know that? That's the next question, all the, because use

James Blatch: AI to detect it.

Mark Dawson: But the problem with that is at the moment as we stand, I've looked into that just from seeing some other bits and pieces and the false positives are through the roof. So it's not reliable yet. Apparently false positive

James Blatch: False positives is the other note I've made to mention as being a possible unforeseen consequence of this is the bots interfere. We've all had this, all of us are us are immune from the Amazon bot at some point taking down a listing or whatever and saying it's in breach and you have to fight it. And that could go up exponentially now with this I think, well, it

Mark Dawson: Could, but that's assuming that they are going to do something. I mean, they're not saying you can't use AI in your world, you've just got to label it. So the mixed metaphor I saw maybe smile this morning in the s pf group was someone said it's a bright red line with no teeth. I'm thinking, okay, so imagine what a red line with teeth looks like. So it was a bit of a mixed metaphor, but that's true

James Blatch: Around the edge. It is always around the borderline that you're going to have issues. And I've got a couple of examples in my head. So from a writing point of view, first of all, if you ask, if you're struggling with a scene and you ask chat gp, you tell it everything about the scene and the backstory and you ask it to write the scene and it writes the scene, you read through that scene and you think actually that's a really good way of doing it, having them come in that order, whatever, and then you write the scene based on that. Having a chat with someone, I don't think you'd have to tick the box on that. You've written it, you've not generated. If you copy, if you copy and paste that scene and then edit it pretty heavily, make changes to almost every sentence, maybe move some sentences and reorder stuff.

Mark Dawson: Well that's a grey area,

James Blatch: That's a borderline. Yeah,

Mark Dawson: It's kind of how much is original, by which I mean human created and how much of it is generated by the ai, what's the acceptable threshold? It's very hard. Amazon can't really say it. They can't say you can use 10%, they have to be more. It's either a few. I think they kind of have to have a very low tolerance level, otherwise there's no certainty. Yeah.

James Blatch: Well the other thing is on images, and I do think this is probably a bit on the face of it could be a bit too strict on images. I think they're different from words. Getting an AI to write your book for you is a very different thing from replacing your stock image subscription, which can be very expensive with generating stock images effectively from mid journey or whatever the AI you use to generate images from. And to have the box tick saying this is an ai, this book contains AI generator stuff, and all you've done is you've got a single image of a helicopter from Mid Journey on your cover mixed in with other stuff seems to be a bit harsh. So I don't know whether they're going to differentiate

Mark Dawson: Well as a planned devil's advocate there you are approaching that from the perspective of a writer because it's easy to feel as a writer that you are being exploited by something that has been trained on other, we know it's been trained on stuff that we didn't agree that it could use. We've seen enough of that to know that's true. But if you approach that from the perspective of an artist, it's the same argument. It's like, well, okay, so Mid Journey has been trained on, again, we know we are almost certain it's been trained on stuff that is just scraped and there's all kinds of interesting arguments whether it should be able to do that yes or no. But

James Blatch: That's not why KDP are doing this. They're not doing that because they're going to ban any AI generated image

Mark Dawson: Because they might be, I think they potentially say there are lots of cases coming up soon. If a court in America, let's say decides that any image created with Mid journey infringes copyright and we can't use them, Amazon will now has a way to immediately identify those and remove them potentially. So it could be future-proofing for changes in the law, it probably isn't, but it does give them that opportunity. So it's interesting. I think, as I said, I think it's a pretty good first attempt at laying down some guidelines because it is not easy to pick away through this.

James Blatch: So I'm going to go into K D P and see what questions we get asked. I'm in my book Desert Venom now, and I've, first of all, it's a new sort of splash page before you get in on K D P once you're inside, and I'm just going to go into the content page. The third question down underneath cover is AI generated content. Amazon's collecting information about the use of artificial intelligence tools and creating content, and then there's a link to the what is AI generated content page. Did you use AI tools creating text images or translations in your book? So for the purpose of this, I'm not going to click on save, I'm going to click on yes, see what comes up next texts, and then you get a dropdown. Some sections with minimal or no editing, some with extensive editing, entire work with minimal or no editing, entire work with extensive editing images, one or a few AI generated images with minimal or no editing, one or a few AI generated images with extensive editing, many AI generated images with the minimal or no editing and many AI generated images with extensive editing.

And finally translations some sections with minimal or no, some sections with extensive entire work, minimal or no editing, entire work with extensive editing. So there are the three areas you're going to get asked. Now if I say, let's pretend, I've used an AI generated to have venom on the front. So if I say one or a few AI generated images with extensive editing, it's going to likely to be recolored and everything by me. Which tools that then comes up with, which tools did you use to create the AI generated images in your work? So I would put in mid journey, and that looks to be the end of the questions on that front. So if we say to text some sections with minimal or no editing, again, which tools did you use to create the text in your work? So that will be the next thing. So this is reading and feeling more like a survey than

Mark Dawson: Yeah, it does now. Yeah, interesting

James Blatch: Than anything else. I'm not going to go back to no and then come out of that without saving and I'm now slightly paranoid that knows.

Mark Dawson: Sorry, I just had a phone call from Amazon. There's an infringement in Huntington. Their team has been dispatched

James Blatch: Fucking near the helicopter coming. Yeah,

Mark Dawson: They're coming down now.

James Blatch: So there is a nuance to the questions they're asking, which does indicate to me that there's going to be a nuanced response to it in the long term. They may not be there yet. This may be phase one of intelligence gathering, information gathering of the extent of the use of ai, the extent of people talking it, being open about it. We should point out right scammers, determined scammers, the bad actors you refer to who pick up their work on a Friday night, they know it's less likely to be taken down straight away. They're not going to volunteer any of this information. Of course they're there to scam the system. So it's not so much about them, but it is nonetheless going to impact on us one way or another. We're just not entirely sure to what degree at the moment.

Mark Dawson: Absolutely. Yeah, it is a fast changing, very fast changing and kind of dizzying in some senses area of the creative arts. It's definitely one that is interesting. It took me a while to come towards it. I'm always not, I'm not an early adopter and this that's

James Blatch: Joe Penn finds it hilarious. You've been cynical about AI for years and then suddenly along with everybody

Mark Dawson: Else. But the thing is, I'm usually right. So I mean, Joe for example, was telling me about German translations about 10 years ago and I've said it's not the right time yet. And she tried and had a really good stab at it, but it didn't take off. But five years later I had a go and obviously it's worked very well. So Joe is, I think she would admit this, she's usually right ahead of the curve. Yes, but often a little bit too early. But that's why she's great to listen to because she, she's very well informed about things before they become relevant in my opinion. And that's one things, reasons I listen

James Blatch: Anyway, let's talk about how you and I are using AI because interestingly you've gone down the chat G P T route and I've gone down the image route, which is a good main two areas for us.

So in terms of using chat G P T and your marketing, that's the first distinction, right? Mark? You don't really use it for, you don't use it for writing, for generating text, although probably ideas and

Mark Dawson: A couple of times I've kind of toyed around with text for ideas for plots and things, but in the assisting the Amazon distinction, assisting me with kind of sorting things out. But I

James Blatch: Actually don't think it's great at that either. I've done that as well. I've never been particularly, I'd rather have a conversation with a mate than chat GPTs never. It's always been a little bit cliched. You've watched a few James Bond films in my case so that you come up with a fairly cliched plot. But anyway, yeah, just sorry to, yes.

Mark Dawson: So yeah, I mean personally, and this is just me and other people have different opinions and that's totally fine. But for me, I consider myself to be a writer. That's my job. And I quite enjoy, thankfully the writing process. That's kind of the best thing about being a writer is being able to sit or stand here at this desk and write two, 3000 words a day. I enjoy writing sentences that I think are really cool. I love doing that. So I wouldn't want subcontract that part of the process to anybody else, to AI in that way just feels like it doesn't work for me. I've worked with, so the kids books, for example, I have Alan who helps me writing the kids books, and that's different, I mean those books are more Alan's books than mine. We'll talk about ideas and plots and things, but Alan and collaborate on that, but it is a human writing that, but for the Milton books or the ATUs books, I enjoy writing those, so I'll continue doing that.

Other people will use it. They'll use pseudo write. I remember I had a chat with speaking of Nin last year with Elizabeth and West at N who was quite fast. He used pseudo, right? And I looked, she gave me a demo initially. I said I wasn't interested. So she kept persisting, eventually persuaded me and I looked and it was like, yeah, that's quite impressive. And I think she uses it in her process totally fine. I think it's not illegal. It's fine to do that, just not for me. But anyway, that's me. But then images and that's more your thing and I'm very impressed with what I'm seeing on images.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, before I talk about images, why don't you tell us how you are using chat g PT then?

Mark Dawson: Okay, yeah, so I'm running quite a lot of tests on different ads in different places at the moment. So Facebook is kind of, yeah, 70% of my marketing is probably Facebook and it always varies for me, but that's probably what I'm doing at the moment. And if I'm testing lots of variation to find combinations that work best, you're going to need headlines, primary text, that kind of the kind of sales copy. And it is good for that. So you can tell it a bit about your book and say you're doing some Facebook ads and we cover all of this in the course. I'll show you the process I use and you want to generate some starting points that you can then put into Facebook and then test them that way. It is good at that. So you could ask for 10 variations on the headline and it'll spit out 10 variations.

And then you could say, well, I quite like this one very that please, but I don't want to have more than 50 characters. I want it all to be visible above the fold. So you don't want it to have the dot abbreviation on the headline. You want it all to be there so the reader can see it and it will do that. And now once in a blue moon, it will give you one that you wouldn't actually touch. It's kind of like, yep, that is perfect. I'll test that. Nine times out of 10 though, you are going to have to do a little bit of massaging of the text yourself, but that's fine. It's given you, you don't have a blank sheet of paper anymore. You have something. And most writers, blurbs are hard, taglines are even harder as you contract the amount of words you've got to do the task that you're trying to achieve from a hundred thousand for a novel to 350 words for a blurb and then to maybe 10 words for a tag. That's really hard. And I'm not an expert at that, but so that's why it's useful to have help and it's pretty good at giving you that help.

James Blatch: Yeah, keyword generation as well. It's not something I always hate sit there staring at it for ages and that's something chat you could help with. Yeah,

Mark Dawson: And also, I mean things like com, so when you are actually targeting, you can ask it for, because I write even with me, I guess because I've been doing this a long time and there's quite a lot of stuff about me on the internet, it knows a bit about me anyway. But you could say, I'm writing novels in the style of Lee Charles, David Baldi, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, whatever, give me 50 comparable authors and it will do that. And it did it the other day and it was like, yep, all of them are relevant.

James Blatch: Okay, well I'm just going, I'm going to see where it is, who it thinks I am. It knows who you are. Last time I asked Chad Gpt who the author James Blatch was, it came up with a load of stuff about me co-writing the LJ Ross books. It's now saying that James Bach is primarily known as a podcaster, journalist and author. He's one of the hosts of the Self-Publishing Show and podcasts. A video series offers a device and information self-publishing authors in two years with successful authors, experts before Venture of the world, James Patch had a career in broadcasting including work with the b b. This is much better, B, B, C range of experience in both traditional media landscape and the new digital platforms that allowed him to provide a well-rounded perspective in the world of publishing and content creation. I mean, honestly, this is a better CV than I could have written for myself as an author.

James has also tried his hand it writing. However, my information may be outdated. So for the most current information I recommend shaky ads, latest works great, I love that. Okay, so I'm using it for imagery and image generation. So what I traditionally do when I market my books and the books and Fuse books is Stuart Base generally does the covers. I ask Stuart as part of the package that we pay for, I pay for personally or as part of this fuse to get Texas versions of it. So you get a copy of the cover without any title or author name on it, and then you can crop that in maybe a couple of ways, sometimes just one way. And you can use that as the image and it looks great. Those images do look great, and you put that as your Facebook image and then you put your description and headline either side of that and you can create a Facebook ad using that.

That looks quite impressive. I sometimes put a three D, what are they called? The pack shot of the book in there as well, because occasionally you get comments on these saying, is this a film? Is that a TV series? Which is a fair enough comment. I use dynamic creative a lot, so you don't always know which description the headline's going to go with it. And sometimes it could be ambiguous. I've taken to using a pack shot as well. That's a very simple thing to do in Photoshop and Canva and other products like that. What AI has done, if I wanted to run a five or six, maybe 10 variations of let's say an R E F pilot in the desert in Iraq, I've got to go to Stuart. Stuart then has to go to all the stock and I'm not good enough in Photoshop to create, to take a stock image of a pilot and then put him in the desert and get all that road look terrible at me doing it.

That's a skilled job. You might be better than me listener, but I would go to Stuart, he would go to Shutter stock or Alami, whoever the services he uses, try to find a pilot who's roughly 1950s R e F. And that's really, really difficult. I know from experience, I've had to dress up and be photographed in the past because it's so difficult to find exactly the right thing. He would then have to create this time consuming and afternoon and Photoshop with some desert imagery. Again, it's got to be accurate. It's got to be in 1950s and then in all likelihood, I'm going to get one, maybe two variations of that that may or may not work. And then when I get them, when I'm putting the ad together, putting the pack shot in, I might think to the pack shots, the picture, the book is really close to the pilot.

I'd really love the pilot to be on that side and the pack shot to be here and all those things. That's where we are now. It's a world we live in. And the result is, I don't go to Stuart every two weeks and say, right, I want another 10 variations of this because it would be time and prohibitively expensive to do that. But AI has enabled me to order up images that are remarkably good, remarkably accurate. So r e f pilots wearing fatigues in the 1950s, standing in the deserts, move the pilot over to the left. In correlation with that, there's a new version of Photoshop called Photoshop Beta. So you do have to have a subscription to it or that's pretty cheap at the moment. You get it for less than 10 pounds here in the UK a month. And Photoshop beta has a bit of generative AI filling in it.

So that really helps you with the composition of these pictures. And the result is, and Mark's been on the other end of this, he's asked me to generate some images for his John Milton series and within five minutes he's got five or six images back, all of which are good. And if he says to me, actually, I want to put some text on it, can you this guy over to the right, I can do that. Ask Photoshop to fill in the rest so it doesn't look like someone's pasted something there. And that is, honestly, it's revolutionising the Facebook ads world for me. And it's something if you're not doing this, you don't know how to do it. We do have an answer for you because we have a step-by-step instruction on how to do all this stuff I will tell you about in a moment. But there it's changing. It's changing the ads landscape.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, absolutely. And then interestingly, the actual ads that I've used, some of those images just testing them and you have too, and we are seeing better performance with those images than the images we were using before, which is interesting,

James Blatch: Which is what it's all about. We should say. However pretty your ads look, you do obviously need to be testing and optimising and checking the bottom line. Pretty images don't always sell books. I've also used it for a plus content, so a plus content on your product page now looks much, much better than it used to using those banners.

Mark Dawson: So yeah, you should go and look at James's book or look at Kerry Donovan and one of our author, the

James Blatch: Ryan Kane books,

Mark Dawson: The Ryan Kane books have that and it looks really good. I know Kerry saw that and nearly fell off his chair kind of like, that's amazing.

James Blatch: He's put 'em up in his office, which is great. So they

Mark Dawson: Look, look really great.

James Blatch: And so there's a lot of know-how Mark and I always dive into these. We're not necessarily the earliest adopters, but as soon as it becomes practical and useful and it's going to work, that's when we really get our teeth into it. And we've done that on the text and imagery side between us now. And so as Mark alluded to at the beginning, we have added a module to ads for authors. So it's made ads for authors an even more powerful and inviting course to be in. As always, if you are already a student of ads for authors, all of this is at no extra cost. We always add stuff and we never charge people twice. And so if you're not in ads for authors, now might be the time to buy in and be on this train each time stuff gets added. So we've done a module, I won't go through it laboriously because we've been chatting for 40 odd minutes now, but it's a module that takes you through the copywriting using chat, g p t imagery, getting started with Mid journey, what it is, how to use it through a discussion.

It's not always intuitive on that, how to use the basic Photoshop beta skills and then the workflow or the ads and a plus content. So by the end of it, you'll be able to do everything I've just described by following these step-by-step instructions and you will have endless variations of your covers and your characters. There's other social media things you can do, and I've done this, I did this ages ago now, but I could do it again, is to ask AI to imagine my characters. And then you could post them, particularly your readers who've already read your books. They love that. They say, well, that's not what I imagined at all, or that's really good. And again, how else would I have done that? Ask Stuart to trawl around stock images and try and do it. Not practical, but it is practical and happening there with Mid Journey and well, there are many other image generators I use Mid Journey.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, me too. It's a little bit another the easiest platform to use to start with. It is a bit weird than the way that you do it. We won't go into that now, but once you get your hand, get the hang of it. It's pretty simple and it's very addictive. It's quite fun.

James Blatch: Yeah, it is. And at the moment, you need to be mastering this stuff. It's not massively complicated, but it does require a bit of mastering in a year's time. We'll be teaching something else in this area. That's how quickly this is moving. But I always think when these innovations come along, the vast majority of people don't touch them simply. That's just human nature. A percentage of the population do touch them and you want to be in that because that gives us, I don't know, a year, 18 months or so of being ahead of the game in advertising and our product placement on Amazon and so on. Use this window of opportunity now to get ahead of the game and milk that opportunity. And then who knows in a year's time, mark, what we'll be adding to the ads for authors course in this particular module in this field will maybe not even easy to predict at the moment.

Mark Dawson: No, and I did say that I would talk about the actual kind of advertis and I'll very, very briefly mention that is probably where we'll add most. So it is possible now to basically not target any ads. So it's kind of let Facebook, maybe you'd filter it by age or gender or location. So you could potentially be sending it to all men over the age of 25 in America. So that's going to be 30 million probably or more. And you're going to let Facebook do that for you. Now I said that I had caveats with this and I do, and go into this in the course and I'll show you how to do that kind of campaign. I'll go into the caveats in a bit more detail. But the issue you have with Amazon selling on Amazon is you don't have both bits of the equation.

So you have Facebook telling you Facebook, you'll say to Facebook, I want this to be as efficient as possible, and your objective will probably be clicks. You want traffic. So it'll say, okay, he wants cheap clicks. But what you really want, you don't really want cheap. You want conversions. And Facebook doesn't know whether someone it sends to Amazon buys on Amazon. Now you know that if you use Amazon attribution or an affiliate tracking link, or even if you benchmark, you have a rough idea of whether those clicks are actually doing you any good. Facebook doesn't have that. So what Facebook will do, it is blindfolded. It will try and get you, it will see that you want traffic and it'll try and get you the cheapest traffic it can. So what you might find is, and I've seen this in the testing that I've done, is you could get sub Tencent clicks and for 10 or $20 you'll get hundreds of clicks, but not many of them will convert.

And Facebook can't optimise on the ones that do convert. So it is an interesting idea and there is more, I think it's more defensible when it comes to selling off your own store when you can instal a Facebook pixel on a sales cart or checkout page and Facebook then would know that someone is converted. It can then optimise for more of those kind of people. But when it can't do that with Amazon, so that's a caveat. Just be careful not, it is tempting to see this kind of suggestion that you can do open targeting. Facebook does all the hard work for you. It is tempting. It feels like it's a shortcut, but I don't think it's a great idea. It's worth testing and people are seeing some success. But generally speaking, I would be a little bit circumspect about that because I don't personally don't think it's quite, it isn't really there yet.

James Blatch: I'm also testing it and we'll report back as we go along with that. I mean, I do think there's something here and I have for some time, I've liked the dynamic creative and I like the fact that you can see there's a box you can tick to expand your audience where Facebook thinks it's relevant. And I've experimented with that and have had some success with that. And I think there's a lot under the bonnet in Facebook that they don't offer us as targeting options anymore, particularly after the Cambridge analytic episode a few years ago. And so you can access that by seeding some targeting power to Facebook. It's also a quick way to spend your money, so you do have to be careful about it. But with AI coming in, mark over the next year or two, this might be an area to expand. Facebook might get better and better. Looking at your product, looking at the words you've used, and then finding the audience matching using AI in the future. So this is definitely one to watch, an area to watch.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, there is some suggestion that it's looking at images and texts. I'm not convinced that it is yet. I don't know. I don't know, no one really knows, so I'll be completely, he probably has an idea. But yeah, I think anyone in the author community who says they know how it works is probably bullshitting. I don't believe that to be the case. But yeah, it is. People, I've seen some success reported by people trying this and that's great. I can't really explain why that would be, but if it's working for them, then that's great for them. They do more of it and people should test. We should all test things all the time. And it's important because that's how people discover new ways of doing things. If we all followed the things that we've been doing for the last five years, nothing changes. So I'm all for testing. Just be careful.

James Blatch: Yeah. Okay. Just a reminder that if you do want to have a look at the ads for all the scores, you can go to self-publishing for authors that I module is going to be in there, probably won't be there by the time this podcast goes out. We are literally recording it at the moment, but it will be launched certainly at the end of, I would imagine the end of the month. But we'll keep you up to date with that. But you'll be in and ready to receive it as soon as it's there. Okay. Gosh, it's been a good one. But you and I are still humans at the moment. I'm looking forward to being replaced by Max Headroom here. I look a bit like him. Do you remember Max Headroom?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, of course. I No one the, no. Most of our audience have no idea what you're talking about. He

James Blatch: Played golf Max Edra. I remember he loved golf, which is obviously a bit weird. He looked like a computer generator DJ in the eighties. Of course, presumably it was a bloke and a mask, but you have to look at em on YouTube, he'll come back. His tears has come, there's that moment and the ex machine, he has to cut himself to find out and he get so engrossed in this whole AI thing. Is it him or is it the

Mark Dawson: Spoiler or that,

James Blatch: Yeah. Okay. Right. That's it. Thank you very much indeed. Do post your feedback in on the Amazon K D P position. They've taken on AI into our group and we will make sure that K D P here in the UK at least get to hear your views and further go to the states as well. That's it. Thank you very much indeed. The team behind the scenes who put this podcast together, that's John and Catherine and Tom and Sarah and Mel. I think I've got everybody watch. Sure. All the most we'd say is this goodbye from him

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me. Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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