If you want a long-term successful career as an author, you need to learn the craft and the business of writing. Joseph Nassise talks about his writing process, how he diversifies his business across different publishers, different products, and different technologies, as well as how he is embracing new options for his books.
In the intro, Draft2Digital opens up Print for everyone; Future Today Institute Trends report; Microsoft introduces the AI-powered 365 Co-pilot; Google unveils generative AI tools; Ethical AI Publishing newsletter from Monica Leonelle.
Plus, pictures from Wales on Instagram @jfpennauthor and Facebook @jfpennauthor; my new craft course on Writing Setting and Sense of Place; With a Demon’s Eye on my store, and everywhere else.
Today’s show is sponsored by Ingram Spark, which I use to print and distribute my print-on-demand books to 40,000 retailers including independent bookstores, schools and universities, libraries, and more. It’s your content—do more with it through IngramSpark.com.
Joseph Nassise is the award-nominated New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 books across horror, urban fantasy, supernatural thrillers, as well as epic fantasy and Arthurian mythos under other pen names.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- The story of how Joseph’s first book became a success
- Deciding between the traditional or indie route for individual projects
- Diversification and creating multiple streams of income from your intellectual property
- StoryCraft — Tips for learning how to write a commercial novel and publish/sell it
- Why create NFT editions of your book
- The future of NFTs and how they will become normalized
- Using generative AI as part of your creative process
You can find Joseph at JosephNassise.com
Transcript of Interview with Joseph Nassise
Joanna: Joseph Nassise is the award-nominated New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 books across horror, urban fantasy, supernatural thrillers, as well as epic fantasy and Arthurian mythos under other pen names. So welcome to the show, Joe.
Joseph: Thank you so much. Pleasure to be here.
Joanna: Oh, I’m excited to talk with you. So first up—
Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing and publishing.
Joseph: Okay, well, you know how superheroes have origin stories, I have a very strange writer origin story. I wrote my first novel in college to win a case of beer.
I had finished reading something, a thriller by a fairly popular thriller writer at the time, and absolutely hated it. Apparently, I wouldn’t shut up about it because my roommate bet me a case of bass ale that I couldn’t write a book, never mind write one that was of decent quality.
So you know, hey, gauntlet thrown down, challenge accepted. I worked nights in college for the security crew, and I sat in this little booth on the side of campus from midnight to 8 am. So I used that time to write my first novel.
It went into a shoebox after I won my case of beer and sat in that shoebox for 11 years until after I’d gotten married.
My wife found it when we moved into a new house, she asked to read it, thought it was pretty good, and convinced me to type it up because it had been written longhand on legal pads. And so we use this old brother word processor, and this was back in 2000, so ancient history these days, but I used this Brother word processor to print it up.
We submitted it, a small press bought it, and then a few months later, Simon and Schuster came along and bought mass market rights and that kicked off my career.
Interestingly, that book was the one that was nominated for my first time for the Bram Stoker award for first novel and for the International Horror Guild Award for first novel. So that really kicked things off for me. It was a great start from a really weird beginning.
Joanna: Okay, that’s crazy.
Did you edit that book again to submit it to the publisher?
I mean, it can’t just have been the same draft that won the case of beer that got you Award nominations, a small press deal, and Simon and Schuster.
Joseph: So I was very fortunate in having married a woman who is an exceptional editor. She went through it first and then we submitted it. And then by the time Pocket bought it, the paperback division of Simon and Schuster, I was fortunate to have as my editor, Amy Pierpont, who was the Executive Editor for the entire line. And she then again went through and edited it, and I learned a ton in that process.
So I’m extremely fortunate to have both of those ladies in my life at the right time to o make this book a success. It certainly wasn’t any skill on my part at that point.
Joanna: That’s just fascinating. Let’s say to the listeners, don’t expect that to happen with your beer novel!
Joseph: Not common!
Joanna: Not common, indeed. But tell us what happened from then. So this was 2000, I guess 2002ish maybe, the book came out. But I know you as an indie writer.
Joanna: So with your Heretic series, that’s how I kind of know you.
Tell us how you got into indie.
Joseph: Sure. Heretic was actually the untitled second book in my Pocket Books contract. So that came out from Pocket Books in 2005. And then I couldn’t sell the darn thing for about three years, and that wigged me out. I was like, okay, I’m not a one-hit wonder, I’m a two-hit wonder, but that’s as far as I was going to get.
So I kept trying to figure out my process and what worked for me. I ended up selling a trilogy overseas to Germany to a publisher called Droemer Knaur, and then that was bought by Tor, and those were my first hardbacks in the US. So I spent the first 10 years of my career with traditional publishing. Simon and Schuster, Tor Books, Gallery, Harper Voyager, I did number a series for a number of publishers. I did 10 books for Gold Eagle Harlequin.
But that’s when the Kindle came out, right around 2009, so I’ve been in the industry for almost a decade. And I found ebooks, as a technology, fascinating.
And the idea that —
We suddenly have this platform where we can put out the work that we want to write, when we want to write it, in the form that we want to put it out in, and not have to deal with gatekeepers and things of that nature.
That to me was what I think of as a disruptive technology, and that was great.
So I jumped full feet into that, and so I had this hybrid career where I continued to sell the New York, and I also do independent publishing.
So when the rights to my Templar Chronicle Series, for which The Heretic was the first book, reverted back to me in 2010, I put those out and then continued the series as an indie writer. And so those books have sold more than a million copies worldwide, have done very well for me as an indie writer, where they didn’t find the audience that I had hoped they would have found back as a traditional published work.
So yeah, I’ve been doing both for a number of years now.
And to me, diversification is one of the things you must do as an author these days.
So that was the foundation for me, is keep writing traditional books and publish as many independent ones as I could.
Joanna: So do you always submit new work to traditional publishing? Or do you have these two parallel things going on?
Joseph: Two parallel things. I will definitely look and decide, okay, do I think this will work or not work as a traditionally published book?
For me, I think of publishing as a business. I’m here to support myself and my family. So as crass as it may sound, money is key. And so I look at projects and decide, okay, where am I going to get the best return for my time and energy? And how will that work?
So for example, I did an anthology project as an editor with Clive Barker, and my coeditor Del Howison. And we looked at Clive’s novella, Cabal, and his movie, Nightbreed, and we picked up the story where Clive left off. We brought in a number of writers to tell the story of the Nightbreed as they disperse into the world at the end of the film Nightbreed.
That’s not a project that really would have worked as well as an indie project because traditional publishing, and obviously Clive’s background and his popularity, that has the scope to reach a lot more readers through traditional publishing than it would, I think, through indie publishing. So we went that route with that particular project.
You know, you mentioned the retelling of the Arthurian mythos. We took those and modernized them and made them modern urban fantasy, and turned it into a shared world with 10 writers. And that was the kind of project that just wasn’t going to work as a traditionally published project. There’s too many moving parts, timelines were not something that traditional publishing could handle, and so that was clearly an independent publishing work.
So depending on the project, that’s the way I try to figure out which is going to be the best avenue and then pursue that avenue with that particular project.
Joanna: I love that attitude. And what’s interesting is we were just chatting before we started recording, and you told me that you’ve also recently done an MFA, which kind of made me gulp. You’ve written all these books, you have decades of experience, and now you’re going back to get an MFA. And I mean, many people who come out of MFAs are writing their first novel.
Tell us, why do an MFA and what did you get out of it?
Joseph: So it’s definitely a bizarre experience, I’ll say that. Initially, I decided I wanted to get an MFA because I wanted to have a backup for my current job as a writer, as a teacher of writing. Having insurance is always a very good thing for a writer and having a job that provides insurance is a good thing.
My wife is a flight attendant, and she’s been doing that job for more than 35 years at this point. At some point, she’s going to want to retire. And so having this ability to be able to go out and say, okay, I’m going to get a job as a teacher teaching writing, that will provide insurance. You know, all that was just kind of smart moves in terms of life.
So I decided, alright, I’m going to go get an MFA. I’ve gone through the process. I’m in my final thesis class at the moment. So I will graduate in May. And I have to say that it’s been interesting because A, as you said, most of my fellow students haven’t written a complete work, and I’ve written more than, well not just written, I’ve published more than 50 of them. So I didn’t go into it expecting to learn a whole bunch, especially where MFA programs, Master of Fine Arts and Creative Writing, are focused so much on literary fiction, and I don’t write literary fiction.
Joanna: Did you have to for the course?
Joseph: I did not, thankfully. I chose a course that allowed me to write commercial fiction. I wrote an urban fantasy novel for my thesis, which is right up my alley. That’s what I’ve been writing for more than two decades now. So that was fun.
I came out of the course saying it’s a shame that there aren’t courses of this type that teach the nitty gritty of writing commercial fiction, you know. I had attended a seminar at ASU, Arizona State University, not too long ago, and the instructor at the seminar was talking about how, as a literary writer, he will do 10 drafts of his novels, and he will throw the first nine away and each time start fresh.
As a commercial novelist, I mean I wanted to stand up and scream. I thought that was the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. In the time it takes him to write one book, I will have written 10, and sold all 10, and made money from all 10. So it’s definitely two different mindsets.
So I did learn a lot about literary culture and literary fiction, but I came away with that feeling of, ‘oh, it would be better if there was something that could help people who want to write commercial novels in a commercial fashion.’
So I got together with my buddy Tom Levine, who is a Random House author. He’s done a number of books, both for Random House and Simon and Schuster, primarily in the YA culture. Then he went indie, just like I did, and has a hybrid career where he’s been putting out indie books.
We sat down and we designed a course that we’re going to launch next month called StoryCraft.
And it is totally focused on everything that wasn’t in that MFA program that I wished was there for people to learn. And so we’re going to take our 40 years of combined publishing experience, and put it all out there for anyone who wants to learn how to write a commercial novel, and then either publish or sell that novel depending on the route they want to take.
Joanna: And that just sounds fascinating to me, and also that it’s almost like you took that MFA course and then wrote all the other material that you actually think is what you need. But it’s interesting, maybe you could give us a few tips, and also clarify commercial. Does commercial mean genre fiction, in this case? So, like you said, horror, urban fantasy, thrillers, epic fantasy, these are what many people consider genre fiction. So —
What is commercial? And give us a few tips from StoryCraft on how to write it.
Joseph: Sure, yes, I use commercial and genre fiction interchangeably. Thank you for pointing that out because that could have been very confusing for people who are listening.
Anything, you know, mystery, thriller, romance, urban fantasy, fantasy, westerns, horror, or what have you, they’re all genre fiction. They’re all commercial fiction. They’re not designed for college courses, or all that, although they should be. They’re just designed for entertainment.
To me, the primary goal of a writer is to take the reader on an emotional journey, and another word for that is to entertain them.
And so it’s all about writing books of that type. And that’s what I’ve been doing for, what is this 2023, so for 23 years now.
Some tips, here’s one big one that I learned early in my career. So I have a kind of quirky way of writing, I don’t write books in order. I will plot out an entire book, and then I will write whatever chapter strikes me as interesting that day when I sit down to write. So I might write chapter three, and then chapter 47, and then chapter eight, and then chapter one, and then chapter 23. And once I’ve done all the chapters, I build the bridges and connect them all. This drives editors crazy, but it works for me.
When I started out, I tried to write a book a year, as they taught you back in the early 2000s. And I would write it in order, and I would write about a book a year because it would take me that long to write something, writing it in order. I don’t know why, it’s just like this block in my brain. I couldn’t write well that way.
The moment I gave myself permission to find a way that worked for me, and to write the way I wanted to write, my career changed.
I went from writing one book a year, to writing four or five novels a year. Which was a good thing, because those were the days when I was writing books for the Rogue Angel series from Harlequin Gold Eagle, and we had a new book come out every two months. There were six of us writing for the series, and every 60 days a new book would hit in mass market paperback. So I had to be able to write multiple books a year.
Being able to find that process, being able to trust what worked for me was the right thing to do was a huge change in my career.
The other major thing that I would say to people is that understand that this is a business. You know, the days of writing for the sake of art, from a commercial standpoint, are over.
If you want to write for art’s sake, go write and be happy and put the manuscript back in your drawer and don’t worry about it.
But if you want to write for a living, if you want to write so that you make money from it and provide for your family and things of that nature, then you got to understand it’s a business. Whether you’re doing it through traditional publishing or whether you’re doing it through independent publishing.
You have to understand as many aspects of the business as you can.
I mean, if you’re traditional publishing, understand how they select books, understand how books are sold to the major chains. Understand the seasons of publishing, and why they do what they do when they do it.
If you’re independently published, you know as well as I do that it’s not just about writing. It’s about marketing, and promotion, and understanding things like finances and taxes, and all the fun stuff that comes along with being a businessman.
If you do that, if you understand those things, your career will be that much better. Because, essentially, you’re in control of it, and being in control of it and having those reins in hand, directing the horses the way you want them to go, is a huge part of it all.
Joanna: It’s so interesting. You mentioned diversification earlier. And obviously, this course is another example of one of your multiple streams of income.
Can you tell us what are some of the ways that your business makes money in terms of, I mean, obviously, you’ve mentioned that some of the series are indie, some of them are traditional, you’ve got the course. On your website, I saw Shopify, Patreon, translations. I mean—
Tell us about the other streams of your business.
Joseph: Certainly. Kind of as a foundation, I don’t think of my work as a book, I think of it as intellectual property. Here’s a character, or a setting, or a story, that can be expanded in multiple directions. And so that’s where I start. How many different directions can I take this particular work?
So that looks at things like if I’m going to publish it in print, I’m going to publish it digitally as an eBook, I’m going to put out audiobooks. My work has been translated into seven different languages.
So when I sell a book, I don’t just look at the US market. Like I said, I’ve sold originals to Germany, I’ve sold originals to Italy, I’ve translated books from English and sold them to the Russian market and the Italian market and the Polish market and the Chinese market.
These are all silos of opportunity where a writer can then earn more income, especially for work that’s already been written. You only have to write the book once, but then you can sell it into a dozen different languages and get a payday every time you do that.
So that’s kind of the first set, what are my various formats that I can sell into? And NFT digital collectible editions of the books is the latest one of those silos that I’m currently working with.
Then I’ll also look at, okay, what are the products that I can build out from those books? I’m in the process of writing a Templar Chronicles role-playing game, so that’ll be another avenue. I’ve sold comic book editions of my Templar Chronicles, so that was a third Avenue.
I have a Shopify store, so I sell everything directly from my website. So if people don’t want to deal with Amazon or any of the other various vendors, they can come direct to me, they’ll get some decent pricing by the fact that they’re doing that, they might get personalized signed editions, things of that nature. They’ll get exclusive content that they can’t get anywhere else from my Shopify store. So that’s an avenue.
The Patreon thing is a way of providing coaching advice and providing an inside look at my work before it hits the market. So if you want those kinds of perks, you want to see what’s coming before it’s all polished and spiffy and nice, well then come on over to the Patreon.
Each of these things, again, like you said, they’re silos of opportunity. They provide a means to reach fans in a new and different way.
That holds true for merchandise as well. I sell T shirts, I sell sweatshirts. We’re going to be doing a line of journals, all of these based on my various series and the various characters or settings that come in those series.
So it’s not just a book, it’s a piece of an intellectual property. And I want to exploit that property as many times and in as many ways as I possibly can.
Joanna: I love that. And we were talking before we started recording, and I was like, how have we not connected before? I feel like we think the same things about quite a lot. It’s kind of crazy. I do you want to ask, you said “we” there—
Are you a one-person business? Do you have a team? Do you use freelancers?
Joseph: I tend to think of it as myself and my wife because she’s my editor. So that’s where the “we” comes from, or it’s the royal “we.” I don’t know. But I am primarily a one man, one woman team between my wife and I.
I do work with other writers. I’ve collaborated with other writers. And some of my pen names are a result of that collaboration. So for instance, I’ve written a series called the HELLstalkers series with my buddy Jon Merz, who is famous for his Lawson Vampire series. And when we were casting about, it was hard to put both of our names on the covers. We tried that initially, that didn’t work.
So we came up with a pen name J.J. Anderson to write that series under. J is for Jon and Joe, J. J., John Joe, and Anderson was a name at the top of the alphabet that was easy to remember and would have the books be in a good position in the bookstore if we sold them in that fashion. So there’s where a pen name came from. So I have worked with him. I’ve worked with Steve Sabol. I’ve worked with the 10 writers when we did the Vale Knights Series, which is a shared world series. So I’ve done a lot of collaborative work, but company-wise, it’s just me and my wife.
Joanna: I mean, we haven’t really even touched on what you do for marketing.
What do you do for marketing? And do you do all that yourself?
Joseph: I do all of that myself. I do your typical Amazon ads and Facebook ads, and I try to connect with people on things like Twitter or LinkedIn to build that audience.
I have a newsletter that has been running for a while, close to a decade now or something like that. And so again, that’s all part of the work of not just being an independently published writer, but just being a writer these days.
I mean, publishing companies do so very little once that book hits the market that you got to learn to do all those things yourself. So you wear a lot of hats.
Joanna: And I guess for people listening, I mean, both of us, you’ve been doing this longer than me, but we have just learned these things over time, right? It’s like, oh, look, here comes the Kindle. Let’s learn how to get our books on that. It’s not like we were born knowing all this stuff. You can learn it, it just takes time.
Joseph: Yeah, time and focus. I think that’s another key, is you need to focus on certain things and not on everything. Something comes along, it’s like, okay, I want to pursue that. Like I’m not on TikTok because I don’t know how to do that, I don’t have a lot of time to figure out how to do that, I don’t like being on camera. So I just kind of said, okay, that’s one thing I’m not going to pursue. I’ll take the time that I might have used to pursue that and learn how to do Facebook ads better or something along those lines.
So yeah, you need to focus, you need to figure out what you want to utilize, and you can’t possibly utilize everything. But you’re right, you just learn it. Oh, I need to learn how to do this, I’m going to go learn how to do that and add that to my repertoire.
Joanna: But talking of things that you have been learning about, you are probably one of the few authors consistently doing NFT editions. You mentioned NFT digital collectibles earlier.
So I’ve also minted, but you’ve minted with book.io. So tell us like, I mean, I don’t want us to go into all the technical background of blockchains and NFTs because I’ve done quite a lot of episodes on this now.
Give your explanation of a digital collectible, and then tell us a bit about why you wanted to go this way.
Joseph: Certainly. I’ve been collecting books, print books, for a long time. And one of the joys of collecting print books with the limited edition, or the lettered edition books where they only print so many. They’re fancy, they’ve got ribbon bookmarks, and beautiful endpapers, and different from the addition you walk into, say Barnes and Noble, and buy on the shelf. And so the idea of having something that’s collectible works for me personally.
When this idea came along that, hey, you could do this digitally, in a way that provides potential value for your fans, that was something that I jumped all over.
And you know, blockchain as a technology, I mean, there’s a lot of key benefits, but the one for me for the reader is the fact that when you buy an NFT, you actually own the digital content you buy. Unlike say Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Kobo, where you are licensing the right to read that book.
Buying an NFT with a book built into the NFT, which is what book.io does, gives them actual ownership of the digital content that they bought. And that was huge for me.
Number two, you know, it allowed that collectible edition.
And one of the things book.io currently specializes in is a collectible edition where they print so many copies, just like a collectible print edition, but each of those copies has a variant cover. You know, comics and variant covers, well now we have books with variant covers. And some of those covers are common, and some of those covers are ultra rare, which can create value for those particular editions.
And so it’s a way to go like, hey, you want to collect baseball cards your favorite teams? Well, how about collecting the books of your favorite authors.
That was something that I thought was really cool, and I dived in with both feet.
As you noticed, as you said, I’ve minted my books with Book.io. We did the first two as straight-up mints, and then everybody who held the first two was air-dropped the third book for free. So now they have three collectible variants of my most popular selling books at that time.
Joanna: I love this. And I think what’s interesting is the variant cover idea. When you were minting, I went and had a look, and it’s always a bit like a lottery and you kind of clicked a mint, but you don’t get to know what that variant cover is. Right?
Joseph: Right. Right. And that’s kind of the addicting part of it. It’s like, okay, we know, there’s 2500 editions available. And some of those have covers where there’s 400 copies of that cover, and some of those covers, there’s only a single copy of those covers.
But when you mint, it’s a random lottery. You don’t know what book is going to land in your wallet until it actually lands and you open it up.
So it’s this easter egg kind of excitement. Oh, what am I going to get on Christmas morning kind of thing. And that, to me is fun. You know, I have a great time.
I’ve minted books by authors that I like. And book.io also puts out public domain titles, but again, with that collectible edition with cover rarity. So I can get a copy of Oliver Twist, or I can get a copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth, with spectacular art that is of a collectible quality. And so that’s been a lot of the fun involved in in doing this.
Just yesterday, I came to an agreement with HarperCollins to do NFT editions of the first two books in my Great Undead War series.
And so that’s a big, big thing in the sense that, you know, okay, it’s one thing for an indie author to go and do an NFT, but now to have a major publisher decide, yes, we see this as a viable means to reach a new audience or provide the book in a new way, and they’re willing to partner to do that. It’s going to be fun.
Of all the books I’ve written in my career, the only two books that I do not control the rights to are the two books in the Great Undead War series, which was an alternate history, World War One series with zombies. HarperCollins still controls those rights. So in order for me to do an NFT, I had to go back to them and negotiate that this was a thing that was good for both of us. But we just came to the agreement to do that yesterday, and so I’m super excited to see where that goes.
Joanna: That is interesting because I’ve talked on this show how I’ve talked with a lawyer about this, and I think there’s going to be an issue around NFT editions because essentially they are an EPUB, or they’re a PDF, or they’re a Mobi, or they are whatever they are, they are digital.
So if an author has signed a contract for digital rights, or eBook rights, or audiobook rights, they can’t do an NFT. So presumably, you had to go back and say, look— I want the right back to do an NFT edition and make that an exception from digital. Is that kind of how it worked?
Joseph: Yeah, what we did is we did an amendment to the initial contract.
Because they still controlled the rights to the series, any final decision on what happens with that series is going to come from them. So I made the pitch to them, hey, we’ve been publishing this thing for so long, we’ve made X amount of money, but here’s a new way of doing it. Let’s reach a new audience. Let’s revitalize this series. Because the series has been out since 2011, 2012. In publishing terms, that’s forever.
It is a new way to bring a new audience to the series.
They didn’t want to give the rights back to me. So I said, let’s find a new way to exploit those rights. And so after a couple of months in negotiating, we finally came to an agreement on how we would do it. And so now we’ll do that, and we’ll both share in the profits from doing that. That’ll hopefully help us reach a whole new audience.
Book three is hanging in the wind, so maybe doing this and bringing in more audience finally gets HarperCollins to pick up book three, or I’ll do I do it myself as a limited NFT edition or an independently published edition. Again, it’s all about revitalizing that intellectual property and using it in a new way.
Joanna: I think it’s great that you’re doing that because I feel like there’s a blockage. I mean, obviously, there was the crypto crash last year, and then also, we’ll come back to AI in a minute, but I feel like the NFT space kind of went off the boil a bit. I also feel that publishers looked at it and went, oh, that’s interesting. And then they went, ‘oh too complicated.’
And depending on the blockchain you mint on, and which currency, and of course, there’s a lot of legal stuff around coins. So there’s a lot to be worked out in this space.
I guess what it seems we both agree on is that this is a really interesting thing. And the digital collectible, I also believe, will become a thing. It’s just whether we will use the term NFT and what chains will shake out. So I feel like we’re super early on this.
How long do you think it will take before NFTs are more like ebooks in terms of mainstream adoption?
Joseph: Well, here’s the interesting thing. One of the things that attracted me to book.io, they just started their company last July. So you know, what’s that? Eight, nine months, something like that.
In the process, they’ve already minted 45 different books, they brought in millions of dollars, but they have also partnered with, first, Ingram Content Group, which as you know, is the largest distributor in the world. And then they also partnered with Bertelsmann, which again, is another huge media conglomerate.
So if companies like that are putting their weight and their money behind this emerging technology, that made me sit up and say, hmm, let me take note of that.
I know you’ve talked about this on your show before, but blockchain is one of those disruptive technologies. 10 years from now, it’s going to be as commonplace as the internet is.
And I’m old enough to remember when the internet first came around, and you’d get the dial up tone through your phone, and it was text only, there wasn’t any images. And here we are today, we don’t even think about it. I mean, we just use it. And blockchain is going to be the same way.
So I think just like those publishers, who said, oh, I’m not going to get involved in eBooks, and then regretted it as soon as eBooks became popular, Blockchain works will be the same way. And so getting in on the front end, I think, is beneficial to both authors and publishers. And we see companies like book.io who are doing that.
Now, obviously, they’re not the only ones. I’m working with another company called The Quest of Evolution out of Portugal, and they’re creating what they call collaborative crypto novels, where they’ll bring in a writer, myself, they’ll bring in an artist, and they’ll bring in a musician. And they’ll create this three part project, where the artist creates characters and character art, the writer will then create what they call spark verses or the beginnings of a story. And then those who come and buy the NFTs for that project, then get the right to continue the story for a certain length of words.
So you become this collaborative process with the original writer, the architect to the story, the musician who provides the soundtrack, and the artist who provides the art that becomes the actual NFTs. And then this story continues as those NFTs are sold and resold and move through the secondary market.
So this novel can grow and live in a collaborative format that is very different than anything that we have available today. So I think we’ll see more use of the technology in that kind of creative fashion. And five years from now, they’ll be making movies and television shows and books and all that through this kind of process. It’s going to be fascinating.
I totally agree with you. And I kind of think that it’s more like architecture. You mentioned the internet, it’s like, we don’t need to know, the TCPIP protocols or whatever to use the internet.
And I almost feel like people will be using blockchain stuff, but they won’t even know. And they’ll be using NFTs and they won’t even know. So I think that’s where it’s going. I think it’s very interesting what you’re doing.
Joanna: But let’s return to AI because what you talked about earlier, 2500 different covers on a drop. And of course, you’re not creating that many covers individually or paying individually for those covers, they are generated by an AI.
Talk about how you’re using generative AI in your work.
Joseph: Sure. And a yes and a no to your statement there. When we did the first drop of The Heretic, there were 1200 different covers, 65 of those were single one-one covers, the others were pulls of a various cover, and books.io’s in house artist did those for me. And he used AI to get the base image and then he uses Photoshop to tweak and make them clean in the way we want them.
By the time we get to book three, I had learned enough about AI art to do those covers myself. And so I went in, same process that Billy used, in the sense that, alright, we’ll use text prompting to get the basic images, and then I’ll pull them into Photoshop and add my changes and alterations to get them just the way we want.
So it’s both a process where the AI is doing work, and it’s also a process where a human is being involved in making changes or alterations to that image.
AI as a concept is another one of those concepts that I find fascinating. I’m one of those people who can’t draw stick figures straight. So being able to create art in a way that is new and different was fascinating for me. I know that there’s pros and cons to AI art, and that’s an argument that I think is going to go on for the next 10 years until, like anything else, it becomes commonplace.
That was the same argument that came along when Photoshop was first put out. Oh, is that what we want to use for art? Well, yeah, it’s become as secondary as anything else in life. I don’t understand the math behind it all. But like you say, I use a toaster every morning and don’t understand how that works either. So, you know, I can use this to do things.
What it does, though, it provides a new, creative outlet for me to add to my intellectual property in a way that I haven’t done before.
So you and I were chatting before we got on about the Templar Chronicles tarot cards that I’m producing as digital collectible NFTs through the use of AI art to get the base image, and then I alter that art in Photoshop. And those are just digital collectibles, something to go along with my books, something like baseball cards that people can collect. And I’m doing the 22 Major Arcana cards from a tarot deck, and each image is either a character or a scene from one of the books in the Templar Chronicles that correlates to what that card represents.
So for instance, the first card we did was the High Priestess. That tends to correlate to feminine energy. Within the Templar Chronicle series, you know, the main icon of feminine energy in the series is a character named Gabrielle Williams, the wife of the main hero of this series, Kate Williams. And she’s not all that present in the first couple of books, but by the time we get to book four, and through what will eventually be book 12, she plays a major role.
So being able to have something collectible that signifies her and her role in the series was just something fun and really interesting to do for me. And it gave me another creative outlet to approach this series, and this story, and what I’m trying to say with it.
Joanna: I love how experimental you’re being in all these different ways. And it’s fun, isn’t it? You’ve said this, that it’s fun. I did wonder if you would also comment on generative AI in text.
Which since like last November with ChatGPT and Sudowrite, authors are realizing that this is not just art, this is also words. So are you being experimental there? Or any thoughts on how this will shake out?
I’m being experimental, but for a reason that I never intended.
So I got sick with COVID back in April of 2020, and I’m one of those people who has long COVID. I’ve been dealing with chronic fatigue, brain fog, and things of that nature ever since I got sick.
And we’re three years on now. And in the last two years, I’ve produced one novel, which is crazy because normally I produce four to five a year. So it really affected my ability to do my job.
There was a time when I was very concerned that I wouldn’t write another book, I was quite concerned that my days as an author were done. And so I fell into AI art because of that. It gave me a way to deal with my creativity that I didn’t have to sit down and write 80,000 words on a given theme and stare at a blank page with my brain fog getting in the way all the time.
As time has passed, I’ve gotten a little better. And I’m confident now that I will continue to be an author. Like I said, I just finished a book for my thesis, so I’m back in the swing of things. But when I was in the depths of it, I started experimenting with ChatGTP because I wanted to see, can I use the works I’ve already written and prompts to help get past what I was thinking of as writer’s block as a result of the disease, or as a result of the virus.
So I did some experiments, and I’m not sure how I feel about the results. Like I’ve managed to get various models to replicate the style I write in, but it doesn’t have the life that my writing usually has. So then it’s a question of, okay, take this and then edit it and see where that takes me. All of that, I’m still experimenting with. I don’t think in, you know, the next month or two, it’s going to radically change the way writers write. And I don’t think it’ll ever replace human-oriented writing, but it’s certainly helpful.
I mean, when it came time to write a sales page for my new course, I threw it into there and said, you know, let’s see what they come up with and then I’ll edit that.
And so I think it has its uses. I think, again, it’s a fascinating technology that has so many uses in so many walks of life, that we’re just seeing the smallest little bit of it at this moment. But it’s going to be one of those ubiquitous technologies that are just everywhere, and we won’t think about it when it comes time to use it, just like we don’t think about the internet, or we don’t think about Googling something.
20 years ago, the idea that a computer will be able to go out and find us anything we need in a matter of seconds, we would have laughed. Now it’s so commonplace, it’s joined the common vernacular.
So I think both AI art and AI text, and even the stuff they’re doing with AI video, and sound, and music, and all that, it’s all going to become new ways of doing things that will, like anything else, have pros and cons attached to them.
Joanna: But you’re excited, and you’re going to try it out.
Joseph: I’m going to make use of things here and there where I can, definitely, because I think that’s what you do as an entrepreneur.
You find new ways of doing things. You know, the first people who used Facebook to put up ads for their ebooks, that was revolutionary at the time. Now it’s so commonplace that it’s just like, yeah, that’s what you do. And so I think this will end up being the same way, and I’ll make use of it where I think it’ll work.
Where can people find you and your books and also your course online?
Joseph: So you can find me at my website, JosephNassise.com. That’s N-A-S-S-I-S-E.com. That’s where my Shopify store is. That’s where my print books, my eBooks, I’ve got a blog where I talk about technology and things like AI art, and all that kind of stuff. So all that’s there.
If you’re interested in the StoryCraft course that is coming, you can go to StoryCraftCourse.com, and there’ll be a link there to sign up for our newsletter. We’ll be announcing the launch of the course, it will probably take place next month. So join the newsletter to get notified of that, and we will give you some bonuses and some benefits. So I urge everybody to do that as well.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Joe. That was great.
Joseph: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
The post Prolific Writing, Diversification, And Using Emerging Technologies With Joseph Nassise first appeared on The Creative Penn.
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Author: Joanna Penn