I’m one of the 300 entries in #spfbo9, which is quite exciting. I’m happy to be a part of it this year, but in the interest of full disclosure: being an entry is more about meeting the deadline than any particular merit. Nevertheless, I’m in and happy about it! #spfbo is one of the few, worthwhile writing contests.
One of the adjacent activities for the contest is a cover contest that runs at the beginning. Covers are selected from the 300 entries, go through multiple rounds and evaluations, and the best cover and finalists are selected.
One of the contest organizer’s few rules is “no drama.” This year, the cover contest led to massive drama which has canceled this part of the contest for future years.
Best Cover AI-Generated
Part of the entry form asked the submitting author if their cover was in part or in whole created with AI. I selected no since, to the best of my knowledge, the cover artist I hired off of Fiverr didn’t use AI to create it. M.V. Prindle made the same choice for his book “Bob the Wizard“, which was an early favorite with many people talking about how much they loved the cover.
With all the eyeballs on the cover, apparently the accusation was made that it looked AI-generated.
The author said that he was told it wasn’t by the artist. The artist strenuously denied it being AI generated and provided work-in-progress files to prove it. The artist removed the cover from the contest. Eventually, something was submitted to Mark Lawrence that convinced him it WAS created with AI.
The drama of the scandal doesn’t really mean too much to me. What I find more interesting is that AI was apparently involved in this cover’s creation and it won (before being removed / disqualified) a contest over 299 other covers! This seems to undermine my recent claims about AI. After all, doesn’t this demonstrate an AI creating exceptional creative work?
What it demonstrates to me is that the AI, along with a human artist selecting output and modifying the images produced, can create exceptional creative work. It isn’t creating the work independently any more than Photoshop is. It was a tool used by the artist Sean Mauss.
It seems to have violated the rules of the contest, but I don’t have any information that the artist was involved with the submission, so it could just be confusion during the chain of people that the image moved through. Removing it from the contest was the right decision, but it doesn’t make the image itself immoral (nor the artist or writer).
With full knowledge that it may involve AI tools, I’d be happy to hire Sean Mauss to make a cover for me.
Edit: The author of this book talked about the scandal in a recent interview.