Today’s Topic: Fire and Fury: The Maui Fires Book That Appeared While Fires Were Still Burning
I had a completely different podcast that I had written and planned to record today, but the truth is that my temper was burning when I saw this book appear while the fires will still burning on Maui. For those that don’t know, I lived on Maui for several years. I ate lunch in Lahaina daily at Choice Health Bar. As many of us did, I watched the events of those days in horror of what was occurring. It was my home! I know that area and I know that this is just not something that occurs there! My dogs and I hiked in the west maui mountains daily. We went up via the jeep trail and made out way to the top for the vast open views over Lahaina. We used to sit up there and watch whales in the distance on occasion. We’ve also been shut out of there from an occasional brush fire. We have also witnessed flames being doused with helicopter water dumps from the ocean, over the highway, and dropped on the edges of the fire to slow the spread. We’ve been up there days after it was all charred black from fire and smoke. But, there is so much to say about what so many believe to be anything other than an accident. But, I won’t get into that today. I can just tell you this was clearly an intentional fire and most people that know that land would agree. There are plenty of theories as to why, but the truth will prevail.
What I’d really like to talk about, however, is the book that came out (Fire and Fury) describing the events that occurred during the fire and how the author believes this to be a result of climate change. The book chronicles the events of August 8-11, 2023 and originally came out as a kindle on the 15th with 44 pages. Two days later it became available in audio book and available for print and expanded its page count to 86 pages. This book is not to be confused with Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff and Holter Graham.
Many people were disgusted by this book and how it would take advantage of a catastrophe by being available while the flames were still burning. Many thought it came out so quickly because it was already known this event would occur. Many had suggested it was part of the narrative. I think what confused people the most was it’s speed to market. Families were still looking for loved ones and this book was available for purchase and was suggesting that climate change was a more important topic than the lives lost or properties burned. It was, without even opening, considered disrespectful. How could someone be selling something so quickly and be making money while survivors were still getting to safety?
As a former Maui resident, I thought all the same, but I was also looking at it with unique eyes. Since I have experience in the publishing industry, many were contacting me asking me to look into it. My first thought was “how could anyone make a tragedy into an opportunity?” Then I did some research… ok it’s only 44 pages and a kindle. It doesn’t take long to write 44 pages and it’s pretty easy to convert a word document into a kindle. I thought… not very tactful to do and probably AI. I went about doing my day then another and another person sent it to me. So, I decided that this was a subject for a podcast.
The thing that people kept saying was “how dare they!” Then they would talk about how they, or someone they know, was writing a book and it had been taking them years and it still wasn’t published. I said, well… because they are writing a real book. This was just something spit out by AI. But, then they asked “Is it possible to do this so quickly or was it part of the agenda to take advantage of people?” As more people probed me for answers I just thought well… let me talk about this in more detail.
I tell those that listen to my podcast all the time that I’m not a fan of the Amazon author. I don’t like working in the Amazon system. I also don’t like the control they have over all things book. I don’t like AI or a digital storage house of content. I don’t like the printing control they have and how they are putting printers out of business. I know I sound like a Debbie Downer… a Peggy Pessimist… But, the reality is that the true control over your own content comes in the form of a printed book. The true authors voice is held on those pages with limited ability to have it reproduced or copied. And it can be copyrighted… and with self publishing, the author can control how many books get produced. Sure, there are ways that pages can be scanned and converted to text and everything can be reproduced somehow, but it makes it a bit more challenging when someone else has to invest money and time into doing that.
One of the questions I was asked was “is it possible to produce a book that fast?” Of course it is! If you have the finished manuscript, you can have a book live as soon as you upload it to Amazon. If you don’t know the Amazon system it might take you a bit longer, but it can be live in that environment pretty much as soon as you upload it.
Many have suggested this book is ChatGPT or Ai produced, but it still takes some human handling to make this work. It’s highly unlikely this came about without some human prompting. I say “highly unlikely” because there might be some way I don’t know about. But, let me explain some of what happens in the process so you can understand how something like this occurred so quickly.
It might take most of us months to years to produce a manuscript, but AI might have helped to scan content and put together some kind of chronological order of events. It has to be tasked with a job. So, someone might have prompted it to get this information. Then it may have been prompted to filter that content so that it had an agenda. In this case, the agenda was to skew the content toward a climate crisis. If you’ve done enough research, you know that anything can be skewed in the favor of the authors agenda or message. Through the right kind of prompting, it can produce very specific information. I won’t buy the book because I find it distasteful to produce while the fires are still burning and people are struggling. So, I can only guess on the kind of content that sits on those pages. But, to get a 6x9 book with that many pages means about double that has to be written. Of course, there are tricks of the trade (like line spacing, larger font, and wider margins) to get more pages for the appearance of a more sizable book.
Next, the content has to be worked into a manuscript. If the author wishes to do so, they might have the work edited, but of course, this takes more time. If you were using AI, you might have to check resources for validity. I also understand that plagiarism can be quite an issue with AI, so you’d have to know something about that if you weren’t having the manuscript professionally edited. Since the laws are currently quite vague on all of this and it’s hard to have any kind of legal standing on information gathered by AI, since much would come from miscellaneous digital sources. If it exists digitally then it seems to be fair game for AI to use as it compiles content.
Once you have your manuscript, you have to decide what format you want to produce your book in. If you are producing a kindle then it has to be converted to make it viewable as an eBook. But, before you can upload anything, you have to set up an account. As books sell, Amazon will put the income into your bank account so you have to spend a bit of time on the backend setting all this up. Even if your content is created with AI assistance, you will still have to have some human intervention here. So, as you can see, this Fire and Fury book does need to be massaged to get it live and to receive payment. Even if AI was used, a human still has a role.
This book was uploaded initially as an eBook. A day later it was expanded and made into an audio book and available for print on demand soft cover printing. AI voice conversion was likely used for the audio book. But, some human intervention would still be required for this book to receive payments. Individual files would have to be recorded and compiled. As an author of an audio book myself, this can be a bit of a tricky process, so AI can’t do it all. My books are much larger and with multiple chapters. It’s pretty typical that one file gets recorded for the preview sample and individual files are recorded for each chapter, then the files get compiled and one file gets created that gets uploaded either direct to Amazon or iBooks, or through a distribution hub for multiple networks. There are some AI specific services that will create the file for you, but a voice still has to be chosen and all background activities have to be coordinated by a human.
In order to get a file prepared for the Amazon print-on-demand system, an author needs to create a cover template and upload the interior file. Amazon doesn’t do this for you. So, someone had to design a book cover for this book in the proper template and the Amazon tools have to accept the files with proper protocols and approvals before it can become available for a buyer to purchase and print. There is a certain level of secrecy or autonomy kept with a print on demand book. It will come direct from Amazon and not from a home address. So, we may never know who this author is. Are they AI? I can assure you there is a human (or two) behind this operation.
So, when someone wants to push this off as an AI book… yes, much of it may be AI-assisted, but much of it is coordinated with helping human hands. Nothing in this process is that automated. But, the greatest response from those bringing this to my attention is that that can’t fathom how an entire book could be produced this quickly. So, now you know its very doable and very easy to become a best-seller with a hot topic in an obscure category.
Whether or not this was tastefully done, given the timing and situation… that’s for you to decide. And… an update on the book? Well, today is the 18th and the book is no longer for sale on Amazon. The audio book, podcast, ebook, and printed book - GONE! All the books also written by this author are also gone! Easy come and easy go in the world of print on demand and digital materials! Yet another reason why it’s always my belief to print your book through an independent printer and make your effort a professional and legitimate one. All things come and go in a digital world, but a printed book stands the test of time.
Alright guys… I hope you are finding peace in these unique days we are living through. I know it took me a good week to find my center with regard to the events in Maui. Tears are still falling but this event is surely one that will wake many on a variety of different levels… tomorrows are not guaranteed.
As always, wishing you peace, love, and light.
The same book re-appeared as a 46-page paperback that is currently out of print and unavailable. But, the author name has changed to Dr. Kathryn Forbes Ph.D. Clearly, there is a game being played here… is it one for profit? Is it to share an agenda of climate change?
Update: 8/21: Gone again!
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