Checking Out the Competition
The benefits of AI platforms that are surfacing is overwhelming. There’s so much excitement about what they can do and how fast they can do it. But as a writer, I can’t help but wonder. Can they do as well as a real author when it comes to writing a children’s book? Will AI some day replace writers and illustrators?
As a marketing person, I always like to check out my competition. Concerned about AI’s ability to replace me in both speed of writing and cost to employ, I had to try it out.
I did a little digging and found a few how-to videos that show how you can write and illustrate a book within minutes using AI, slap it on KDP, and make millions overnight.
Sure, why not?
So I chose a great video about 3-minutes long that taught how to write and illustrate a book in 3 easy steps. Woo-hoo!
I logged onto ChatGPT, per the instructions, and typed in the details of a story idea:
“Create a rhyming children’s story in less than 250 words about a beagle named Zoe who eats all the candy canes from the Christmas treen, all the Christmas cookies from the counter, and attacks the Christmas dinner Turkey, then later learns the true meaning of Christmas which makes her a different dog.”
I’ll admit, as the AI typed out my story in minutes, I felt like I was cheating. Here’s part of what it spit out:
Once upon a Christmas night,
Zoe the beagle was quite a sight.
She snuck around the Christmas tree,
And ate the candy canes with glee.
Then she trotted to the kitchen counter
And snatched some cookies without a bother.
But her greed didn't stop there,
As she stole a turkey leg without a care.
Well, that’s a fail. Whew.
As a children’s writer, I often hear about how difficult it is for editors to find a children’s book that rhyme well, without being off-beat or sounding hokey. Many think it's easy to write this kind of book, but writers know it's actually quite a challenge. But using ChatGPT, I found its ability to write a rhyming story less than desirable. Kind of like nails on a chalkboard.
I also tried playing with a few different story descriptions, including a non-rhyming option, and the stories felt “canned.”
For this step, the video instructed me to ask ChatGPT to create a list of illustration ideas for the story it just wrote. Because why think for myself when I have AI?
And did you know that our beloved Canva has a developing Text to Image AI function?
I hopped on over to Canva to complete step 3 and played with the Text to Image function. It was a blast to play with, putting in different instructions and selecting styles. But I found very few pictures I could use for a picture book.
First, it was difficult to get a beagle that looked alike in all the scenes. While some of the art was adorable, I noticed some objects in the illustrations would be go rogue. Such as a floating Santa hat that didn’t quite make it onto the dog’s head or a haunted floating candy cane. Here are some examples.
For the record, and so not to be rude (can you be rude to AI?), I did get a few adorable illustrations. But none that really fit what I wanted. Including, as I mentioned, getting two beagles that look alike throughout the book.
Hold Your Breath
So, if you want to write a book (and make millions overnight), AI won’t get your there.
At least not yet.
But there is way to use AI for your children’s book. Is it cheating? I’ll let you decide. Check out my next blog post coming up next week titled “Four Way to Use AI When Writing Kids’ Nonfiction.”
Cindy Lynn Sawyer is a KidLit writer with a passion for helping kids to G.L.O.W. from the inside out, and to help other children's writers on their path to publication.