Generator Ep. 011 – Nicole York: Goddess of her Own Universe

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Nicole York: author, photographer, digital artist, educator, and creative visionary behind The Artist's Forge. Nicole is the quintessential artist, mastering her craft in nearly everything she does, and is also one of the smartest people in the industry.

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Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 011 - "Goddess of Her Own Universe"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
You know, if we’re lucky, we get to meet people in our lives that are truly awesome meaning we stand awestruck when we see their capabilities or their talent or their intelligence or their drive. Today’s guest is one of those people to me. Nicole York is the quintessential artist. She’s an author. She’s a photographer, a digital artist, a crafter, a speaker and educator, you get the idea. She’s also a veteran and a mom to an incredible family. She’s also the founder of the artists Forge, which is where I’ve had the pleasure to get to know her. The same week we’ve recorded this Nicole launched, her newest book vanished, and it rocketed to number four in her genre in new releases on Amazon is a pretty incredible week to talk to her. So in this conversation, we talked about a lot of stuff, the connection between snails and hobbies, how she finds balance in life, doing all the things how independent authors are finding a voice in the unlikeliest of places, which is on tick tock, and we even discuss the ethics of AI in art. There’s no one I know that can break down the creative process like Nicole, and I can’t wait for you to hear what she has to say. So enjoy this episode. I’m calling the goddess of her own universe. This is Nicole York now on with the show.

Do I want to do this? I’ll say, Nicole’s amazing, and she got yellow glasses like a guy on the

Nicole York 1:53
He’s like whatever, Walter.

It’s been so long. Since I’ve wanted to get you on here. And I wanted to thank you because generator wouldn’t happen without you haven’t given me that little spark a long time ago. So Nicole York, welcome to your brainchild generator. I mean, like, it’s your brainchild, but still, yes, I’m very glad I’m excited. I was like, I’m wondering if he’s ever gonna have me on. I had to launch and be like, of course, his first guest is Nicole York, just the artists floor just going round and round. Right now, I’m really excited because there’s a lot going on. And you live in such a world beyond my world of creativity. I know, cameras, and I know a little bit of music. And you’re like, oh, by the way, I’m just gonna drop this bomb on Amazon this week, that I’m also going to put out some mind blowing art run some educational things. I don’t know how you find the time to master everything. But you do. I mean, I certainly don’t feel like I master it. I think what happens is, I’ve mentioned this before, but I think I have the how, how hard can it be Jean like I have that, like, give it a go? You know, like, I think I walk into everything with probably an unreasonable amount of confidence where I’m like, Yeah, I can do it all. And then I get there. And I’m like, Oh, this was a lot like maybe I should have slowed my roll a little bit and tried not to overdo everything. But I don’t, I haven’t seemed to get the drift yet. Like, I know better than that. And I continued to do it every single time Are you like me that when you get in way over your head, which is often and you’re like, I can either admit failure, which is not shameful, and back out and save myself a lot. Or I can prove everybody wrong. And keep going, like just keep going, keep going keep going and force it to happen. Do you basically ever cut your losses? Or do you just say, onwards and upwards every single time? You know what, I can’t actually think of anything that I have ever quit with the intention of of saying, I’m giving up. Usually it is almost always something I enjoy. And I’m like, I’m gonna come back to this, like, I’ll come back to this at some point, I have so many craft supplies right over there that you cannot see on camera, but like it’s a lot. And anytime I get the urge to do a thing, I’m like, I’m gonna go get the stuff for that. And I do it and I’m like, ooh, it’s nice. And then I go and do the next thing. And the same thing has been true with almost all of the careers that I’ve had at this point, which is interesting. So you know, been a soldier did medical junk and then got out and been a photographer and been a writer and you know, had these different things. And almost all of them with the exception of soldiery are things that I can come back to when I want to I have no intention of putting my camera down forever. I just right now know that in order to get myself off the ground in this field. I have to focus a lot so I have to pare some things away but they’re always waiting there for me on the sidelines. And I don’t

seem to be capable of leaving things behind. I feel like all of the things I pick up and enjoy are just little offshoots of me. And so I kind of am like the snail, right, like I’m carrying it all around on my back. And if I want to, I can scoot back into my shell and grab something and pull it out and use it. And so it feels less like giving it up and more like putting it in my shelf.

Matt Stagliano 5:25
The show gets bigger and bigger and bigger, large show. Yeah, everything you say, even since I’ve met you resonates, I’m like I swear to God, we were separated at birth, because every neuroses, every confidence that you have, I mirror, you know, you put some of these hobbies away for a little bit, you’re going to come back to them, I’ve got an entire basement full of hobbies, that I’m absolutely gonna get back to making music, woodworking. Sure, but the best thing for me to do is keep accumulating things for that hobby. So I have them when I start

Nicole York 6:06
quarters, orders of craft potential, like,

Matt Stagliano 6:09
potential, that’s

Nicole York 6:12
because you can’t stomach the idea that if you want to do it someday, it won’t be there. Or if you like, if you need. So here’s a situation in which this all came in handy for me. So like, as you know, I just launched the book, and I needed to send out some PR boxes to some bookish influencers so that they could you know, get a feeling for it and show it to their followers and all that kind of stuff. And so what was I going to put in those boxes, the things that I wanted, I wouldn’t have had to commission an artist for it would have cost a good amount of money. So what do I do, I reached back into my shell and I grabbed out the art stuff, and I grabbed out the whatever stuff, and I just made them, I went and got something and I carved myself a stamp and I stamped some bookplates. And I made some bookmarks, and I drew on them with gold pen, and I just did the things myself because like, I have all of these skills, why do I not use them, it probably would have been way faster. And the end results like the finished product would probably have been significantly more professional if I had sourced them from an artist who did that as their sole career. But I don’t seem to be capable of that when I can do the thing. So they all came in handy. And luckily the people who got the PR boxes really I think they liked the fact that it had a personal touch that it was done by me with my two hands. And that meant something so like, it still comes in handy. And it is all sitting over there just waiting for the next time I’m going to need them. So for the people out there that don’t know you launched a book this week finished the first book in the Glen St. James affair, is that correct? Yes, I really want to dig in with that I’ve never watched an author launch a book. And I know how much you write, and how passionate you are about it. And to see this come to light. Now, tell me about this book launch. compared to everything else you’ve done. It seems like this has really caught fire in a lot of different communities. Most people who write have probably been writing since they were young, it’s rare that somebody comes into writing, you know, late in life and goes oh, this was meant to always be my thing. Many of us have, you know, had a tendency to do it. And I always knew at some point, I would write something that I always wanted to exist in worlds that don’t exist, or ones that I would never have access to. I always wanted bigger things than what I could reach for with my own two hands. And so when I decided to pivot from my photography career into being an author, it was mid pandemic. And it was also really dumb, because I can make a lot more money with a lot less effort as a photographer than I can as an author. The potential for scalability is there and as an author in a way that it’s not with photography, but there’s some stories that are just too big to tell with a camera. And when you get those ideas, they have to manifest themselves. And interestingly enough, and I’ve told this story a few times, but the idea for this book came because of a hat, I saw a piece of art, it is a felted hat and I will show it to you sometime. But if anybody wants to look it up, the artist is Lala bug designs. And it was this beautiful little that looks a bit like a trilby hat like a men’s Trilby. So it has a down facing forward brim and an upturned back brim. Except the top is smooth and it form fits to the head all except at the back of the crown where it curls up into a little curly cue. And it almost looks like a flower like it grew out of the ground and you flipped it and put it on your head. And it was so charming. And I just wondered to myself, like who would wear a hat like this. And then this character popped into my head and she’s wearing the hat and she’s standing outside and the wind is blowing and she looks back at me over her shoulder and she’s smiling with this mischievous grin like

She’s about to go do she’s about to go do some stuff she probably shouldn’t do. And I was so enchanted with her that I had to know everything. Who is she? What does she do? Where does she live? What does she like, and the more she came to life in my head, the more I knew I had to write a story about her. And so the Gwen St. James affair, that series is literally all about her. And I mentioned that there are some stories that are too big for a photograph, right. And as you write, you kind of begin pouring things into the story that come from your own life, your own traumas, the things that you know. And those stories require so much of you over the long term, that by the time they’re done, you’ve kind of poured yourself out into them. And my experience with the stories,

in contrast to being a photographer, is that rarely have I ever walked away from making photographs, feeling like I have invested as much into them as I do, when I have written a book at that point, I feel you know, you the ink is your blood, right? Like it is there on the page. So just the pure amount of effort over a long period of time, especially as an indie author, I think it would be one thing if I had written it, and I gave it to my editor, and then it went to my publisher, and they did all of the things. And I could kind of sit back and watch the machine move. But I’m the editor, and I’m the format and I’m the publisher. So the just the extended amount of effort alone is relatively exhausting, comparatively, as far as that part of it goes, that’s the biggest difference. I think the similarities really lie in the fact that in each case, you’re telling a story. And in each case, you are getting an idea and then developing that idea and expounding on that idea and finding out which details matter and which don’t, and where you’re going to put things in how you want people to feel. And like all of that part of the creative process is really, really similar. But the problems you solve as an author are a lot bigger and deeper. And the amount of investment is a lot bigger and deeper. And so that’s kind of I think the biggest difference between like, what it feels like for folks who are listening to be a traditional artist, right like to make a visual, and then send the visual out versus what it is like to build a world and build characters and learn them and speak for them. And all of that kind of stuff is just a another 10 levels deep of investment, I think emotional and physical and timewise you’re not just creating the backstory for a photograph, you’re building a new world, getting back to your flower hat. What’s the most unexpected source of inspiration that you’ve ever come across? Was that it? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It doesn’t seem like a random encounter with a piece of someone’s arm should all of the sudden spawn a whole universe, right. And like, that was definitely the seed. And it? It did. I think the most difficult one is definitely for the founding trilogy, because it’s easy to get people invested in fantasy, because there’s a sense of wonder there. It’s not always and sci fi authors will know this, it’s not always as easy to get people invested in like theoretical physics is the base for all of the things like, you know, that one’s a little bit more of a stretch. And I think it definitely has even a more niche audience than you would expect. Because it’s science fantasy. So there’s a lot of sci fi elements and a lot of a lot of fantasy elements. So that one definitely the most complex, especially in terms of how do I describe what these people are doing when they leave one version of Earth and show up in another version of Earth? And is there a physics base that you can use to kind of give an idea of why such a thing could potentially happen? That one’s definitely the most complicated, but the weirdest and the most unexpected 100% That really funny that you mentioned, you know, the founding trilogy, I loved it, right? Big physics nerd big kind of sci fi nerd. Absolutely love that trilogy, because it dealt with all the multiverse parts of me that it just made me feel comfy, right? Just wrapping myself up in the multiverse. Yeah, I can’t wait to get into vanished. I haven’t read it yet. But I did preorder it, it is on my Kindle. It’s just a matter of sitting down with it. And I can’t wait to hear more about it. But I’ve got to believe that it’s hard to not only maintain your creative voice, and in Amazon, so you can get anything you want anywhere at any time. But it’s also dependent on reviews. It’s dependent on audience participation and reader participation. How do you handle all of that and stay sane? I don’t. Okay.

Matt Stagliano 14:39
That answers a lot of us

Nicole York 14:41
badly. There, I think and you will have experienced this as well. But it’s the same as when somebody asks you like how do you find time for hobbies and your friends and your business and your art and all of that stuff? And it’s like, well, you really don’t and we’ve talked about this before, but I came to an understanding of balance that I did not have previously, because in my mind, and probably for a lot of folks, when we think of balance, we think of like a teeter totter that’s balancing, and it’s perfectly flat. That isn’t how humans balance. In fact, that’s not how animals balanced at all, they have done really interesting. I don’t want to say it’s a study, but it’s an experiment where they had people balanced and on a pressure plate, and then they could monitor by looking at the computer where the weight actually sat on the foot while the person was standing there on one foot. And what they found is balance is actually a bunch of tiny micro changes all the time. So sometimes your forward a little bit, sometimes your backward a little bit, sometimes your balance slips over to the side. So what balance is, is not a perfect symmetry between one side and the other. It’s actually a bunch of constant tiny adjustments that keep you more or less in the same place. It’s not balanced entirely, but that’s how I look at trying to do all of these things at once, sometimes my weight is going to be on the front of my foot a little bit and the backside is going to suffer, sometimes the weight is going to be on the side of my foot a little bit and the inside is going to not suffer unnecessarily. But there’s less pressure there, right. And so while I’m focusing on this book launch, I’m not editing Book Two, that’s a little bit of a problem, because Book Two needs the finishing edits. And the rest of the books are being ignored, because I can’t get to them right now. And instead of playing at the park with my kid, today, I am trying to talk to everybody in my Facebook group and get my arc readers to make sure they’re leaving, you know, their reviews in places. And so it’s literally a constant act of slowly shifting where your balance is at, it’s always in a little bit of a different place all the time. And also accepting that the dishes in my sink have not been done yet this morning. And that’s not the end of the world. And there I need to wash everybody’s betting, it hasn’t been done yet. And that’s also not the end of the world. So being able to let go of some of the things that I maybe would have guilted myself for, with my previous understanding of balance, meaning I gotta have an equal amount of time for my friends and an equal amount of time for my husband and an equal amount of time for my hobbies. And I don’t, I’m gonna go through seasons when those things are prioritized and seasons when other things are prioritized. So you have to look at it as a whole, rather than, like, this day. If everything doesn’t get equal time I have somehow failed over the course of this year. How did I do? Did we go and have adventures together? Did I read to my babies? Did I spend you know, quality time with my spouse? Did I get a book, you know? So I think looking at balance on that larger scale, and then recognizing that you’re not going to do everything well, all of the time. And that’s okay. Is the only way I’ve been able to make sense of of doing it without feeling horrible about everything. Oh.

Matt Stagliano 17:51
Well, you know, I know you work at home like I do. And you’ve got a family, I do not. I can only imagine how difficult it is to maintain that balance. I find it hard as a single guy, one job for you. You’ve got a spouse, and you’ve got children, and you’ve got your you’ve got friends, I don’t have any you’ve got friends

Nicole York 18:15
that I meet on the interwebs.

Matt Stagliano 18:16
They’re real, right?

Nicole York 18:20
It’s spooky motion at a distance, right? Like it’s there, like in the quantum field somewhere. And they only exist when I find them for a while.

Matt Stagliano 18:27
I loved how you were talking about there are seasons where I’ll be doing this seasons where I’ll be doing that. And it’s it’s a very nice approach to it all. It’s a very balanced way to look at it. How do you stay productive with all of that? Do you have to separate yourself to a separate section of the home? Do you set up rules? How do you kind of go about staying productive in that environment where you’re doing your best?

Nicole York 18:53
That’s a good question. So there are some things that are non negotiable, right to grab the song’s terms. There are some things that are non negotiable meaning like, in the evenings, I’m spending time with my family and I read to my son before bed and like those things are non negotiables meaning it’s not as if something can happen and we don’t do it every single night. But if it’s at all possible, that is the habit that I have built for myself. And in the mornings I get up and I go downstairs and make myself a cup of tea and I sit by the fireplace and like those things have become like the touchstones of my day. And right now my kid wants me to walk home with him from school. And so at about 145 or so everything shuts down and I put on my shoes and I go walk down and I get the kiddo when we walk home and talk so having those touchstones throughout the day that you try to do no matter what that like keep you centered and grounded in your own life are really fantastic because it means now that you have those you’re free to put them aside and focus on the other stuff. So when those touchstones aren’t happening I don’t have to feel bad about putting all of my energy into other things. So like, that’s kind of a first point there. And then the other thing is probably neurodiversity to be quite honest, like, it’s probably ADHD, it’s probably you have to be busy and your brain has to be engaged all the time, otherwise, you start spiraling out of control. So I think I think that that’s probably part of it, because I’m constantly looking for something to be engaged with. The other thing is, well, I guess it’s two parts, but one is the expectation of the people that I have made myself accountable to, I put up a preorder for Book Two, it’s already there, it has a date, if I don’t meet that date, it’s going to be trouble for me. And people want it, they expect it, they know that it’s coming. So that is, obviously an important part of making sure that I’m productive. And then the other thing is, I also have a responsibility to the characters and worlds and to myself, I have these ideas in my head, and they are living these lives to not get weird and creepy. They’re living these lives in my head. Like, as I know, these people in that live in my head better than I know, some of my friends, I know their life, I know their backstory, in consequence, and how they impact my life, they are nearly as real as real people, meaning I learned from them, I have a weird relationship with them that may be relatively one sided, but it’s their token called the sub creation, right? So in a very real way, in a way that’s gonna sound incredibly narcissistic. I’m the God of my own universe, and I have a responsibility to the creatures that I have created to finish telling their story so that they can then go on and be manifested in the heads of all of the people who are meant to read that story. And if I don’t follow through with that, then they end up sitting in the back of my head growing old and going, when is this shit gonna get started. So that is a kind of a legitimate part of it, too. And interestingly enough, what I just said is the plot of the book like, my my manifesto that I have been, I actually started writing this a decade plus ago, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, realized I was not a good enough writer yet to tell that story, the way I wanted to tell it, it is sitting on a shelf and waiting. But that thing is that is that is a weird reality that exists for writers that this world and inside all of our imagination is an entire universe that exists in the characters live there. Frodo lives in my brain, like he’s, I know about as much about him as I know about some of my family members, right? Like, I know, his I know his past history, and it was who his mom and dad were like, and he’s in there, probably somewhere like puttering around, and hanging out with Superman, who also lives inside my head. Like, once I have taken or once a reader has taken ownership of the characters that they read about. And they have had this like deep interpersonal relationship with these characters, all of the sudden, they are now manifested, they exist there, maybe not the way that they did, certainly not the way that they did in the mind of their Creator, or in the mind of the other readers like that is a an interpretation, that’s purely mine. So that version of them lives inside there, just like my characters do. And if they don’t get out, as a writer, I have failed them somehow, like, other people deserve to have Gwen St. James walking around in their heads and her silly hat just being whimsical and doing goofy shit. And if I don’t do that, I’ve failed her as her God and create.

Matt Stagliano 23:32
And therein lies the title of the episode, goddess of her own universe. And if you don’t think I’m going with that you’re wrong. Is when your favorite character you’ve ever written, represent to the opposite end, right? Your brain is brimming with all this stuff. And you finally get all these characters out and you get their worlds out and you slam into a creative block. How do you get past that? Have you ever experienced a big, deep creative block? Really, you’ve just always been able to push through.

Nicole York 24:05
I’ve never hit a creative block in my life. But that’s part of the problem. I can never make enough fast enough to get it all out there. Like there are images in my mind photographs I haven’t made yet. And every time they pop up, I’m like, Oh God, I know. It’s really like talking to a kid who’s like, Hey, mom, hey, mom, Mama, like they want your attention. They got important stuff to tell you. They really want to tell you this thing and you’re busy. And you’re like, I know honey, I know I will get you. There’s a picture in my head. I have bought things for it. I’ve already made things for it. That is essentially like Sleeping Beauty except the princess of vampire. I can see the scene where she’s laying across the bed and when the light is streaming in, and he’s got a hold of her neck and he’s probably going to bite it and everything’s really beautiful, but it’s also kind of dark and Gothic. Like that image is in there and it needs to come out and until I do it, it’s going to be jumping up and down and waving and so on. and being like, pay attention to me. And that never stops. So in a way, it’s, you may think to yourself like, oh, cool, you’ve never had a creative. No, it’s like a literal flood all the time. And all you can do is shore up the banks to try to keep things from flowing over. And you know, that you don’t have a big enough or a long enough life, to make all of the things that are in your head screaming for attention. So it’s like having for concerts, and a movie and a theatre production playing in your head all at once. And you don’t always know who is the right person to give your attention to, or what’s the most important one, or what’s the one that’s gonna matter the most. And that’s, that is rough to live with in your head. But I have had times where I have had really, really long, productive seasons. And I know that I just can’t commit to starting the next thing yet. And that is usually where I fall, it’s not a creative block in terms of I don’t know what to make or how to make it or I’m stuck. And I don’t know my way forward. It is, I know that the next time I commit myself, it’s going to be a long term commitment. And I’m just not ready to step into it yet. And those are the periods that I have. And that is just me standing on the edge being like, do I jump yet? Do I jump yet not ready to jump yet do I jump yet. And then finally, eventually, I always do. But sometimes I just have to stand there for a while and get my courage up. Because I know that once I do, that symphony is going to start and the singers are going to start and the play is going to begin and the river is going to be in flood and I’m going to be dragged along until I get enough of it done that the water level goes back down,

Matt Stagliano 26:35
doing research background on you, right? When I was when I was vetting to see if you’d be good enough for this podcast. You know, putting in Nicole York photographer to call your kothar Nicomachean. Like it kept growing and growing and growing. And you’ve got an enormous presence in the creative world. It’s amazing to me where you leave your footprints, positive footprints, and I’ve never met someone that hasn’t been something along the lines of that’s the smartest woman I’ve ever met. That’s the most creative woman I’ve ever met. Oh my God, I don’t know how she does it all. There’s got to be some periods in there where self doubt or imposter syndrome or something creeps in, I can tell by the expression that there may be something to talk about here. I just need to know you’re human, and not just a cyborg production machine. Do you feel that imposter syndrome creep in? Or do you mask it by jumping to something else?

Nicole York 27:39
I have anxiety attacks. So. So do I get imposter syndrome? No, I do not. I don’t really experience impostor syndrome, in part because I believe in my identity as who I am, that I’m a creative person, that there’s not a wrong way or a better way to be a creative person. But also, I know very deeply that that’s, that’s what I am as a person, I’m a maker of things. And if I work at something long enough, I will be good at it. I believe when I’m creating, I’m standing in my place of power. And if I’m speaking to people, I mean, I was a performer from the time I was little. And so when I would be you know, in a play or something, when I would step on stage, you’re in my house now, like you’re looking at me for a reason is because I have something to give to you. And you’re here for that. It’s not me begging for your attention, right. So I guess I always am under the assumption that if somebody is here, it’s because they want to know what I have to say. It’s not because I’m trying to fight them to get them to listen, if they leave, that’s fine. Like I just wasn’t the thing for them. So that doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. But I do get overloaded and overstimulated and over worried and so eventually there will become times when my body goes we’re not doing this anymore. Or when the the stress that I’m experiencing as a kind of chronic at a chronic level. If I’m not paying attention and I allow myself to get into those spaces, I will have panic attacks more often I will have anxiety attacks more often I will have a harder time dealing with my anxiety, those things will become more difficult to manage. Absolutely. So that is the thing. And then I do I just like everybody I experienced frustrations, because I have an unreasonable level of confidence. That does not always jive. I do that does not always jive with the success, right? I may go into something thinking this is the best book anybody’s ever written. Everybody’s gonna love it and it doesn’t sell and that cognitive dissonance is really difficult to deal with. Because you’re like, wait a minute, this was amazing. Why aren’t people responding is if this is amazing. And in some level, I do think anybody who’s trying to make their living creatively has to have a certain level of arrogance, we have to think that we’re worth listening to or worth looking at or worth buying. And if we’re not willing to put ourselves out there, if we didn’t believe that about ourselves, we would not continue to throw ourselves on the rack of public opinion over and over and over again. So there must be something within me that says, I’m worth your time. And I just follow that impulse. Just continue going, Yep, here we go. Here we go. Here we go. I’m gonna go until something hits. But I do hit brick walls, like over and over again, I do have expectations for myself that I don’t meet. I do have times when I think something should be enormous, and everybody should love it. And people just don’t really care. That doesn’t mean I think that I’m an imposter. It usually means I think I’m missing something somewhere. Either I’m I missed an opportunity, or I was at the wrong moment, or I didn’t. I didn’t do something other people have done that did make them successful. Like, I usually assume there’s a gap in knowledge or understanding somewhere that I just don’t have yet. Or other people are dumb for not liking my stuff. I mean, I’m kidding. But like, there’s something you know, like, I think every artist thinks that they make amazing things. And for people who don’t like it, well, they just might, they don’t understand it. I can’t lie and say that that’s not in the back of my head somewhere that’s like, you might get whatever you’re just this is that

Matt Stagliano 31:21
unreasonable level of confidence, right? I picture you, I picture you seeing a castle, and the occupants of the castle are not coming out. So you’re like, Screw it. I’m getting in the treble che launch me over the wall. I’m going forward. And there’s Nicole coming, you know, into a new flying. I’m here to save you my words. I love the unreasonable confidence. It’s fantastic.

Nicole York 31:51
It’s you know what? It sounds fantastic from the outside. And just like the creative thing, it doesn’t always feel fantastic from the inside. Because you do. That’s why it’s unreasonable, right? Because the results are not always going to match the motivation or the belief. And that’s, that’s just a reality that you have to come in. So sometimes when I launched myself in the trebuchet, I hit the wall. I’m like, Oh, I just need a bigger trebuchet. Obviously,

Matt Stagliano 32:14
I just didn’t know I didn’t have this perspective. Before I rock climb, I can get up that wall. Splat and just hold on by my fingertips. get a toehold. Yep. All right. So moving from move from that. I remember we had a conversation a couple of weeks back, and I didn’t understand a word of it about some of the things that Amazon is doing. I know that they are not being timed, especially to indie authors. Can you walk me through what a couple of those issues are? And what anybody out there can do about it?

Nicole York 32:50
Yeah, for sure. So as with any industry, there’s usually a big player right at the top right, somebody who kind of, because they’ve built the biggest platform, they have the biggest incentive for people to participate, but they also control all the functions within that platform, which means they can make it easier or harder to participate. And they are always going to err on the side of what is best for their company for their shareholders, etc. So the way that this works is Amazon biggest bookseller in the world. And if authors want to be successful, they almost always have to have at least some presence on Amazon, even if it’s purely for the reach. Because if somebody wants to buy a book, often they will pull up Amazon and they will go to the Kindle store, and they will scroll through a bazillion books. And if Amazon likes you, meaning if you are good for Amazon. So if you have enough engagement, if you have a big enough name, if you have enough people buying, commenting, giving your book stars, whatever, then that increases your reach ability, which means it increases your sales. And that’s a big thing for authors, especially in a really busy full market. You’re constantly scratching for every bit of attention you can get to your book, Amazon is fantastic. And that giving people Kindle Kindle Unlimited, all of that stuff that has created careers for authors that they would not have had otherwise, if we just had to kind of build a presence outside of Amazon. However, that means that they control so much of the market that it’s very easy for them to squish smaller publishers under their feet, even if they’re doing it accidentally. And then they also know which markets are really big and audio books have been growing year over a year and taking up a bigger and bigger part of the market share. So there’s kind of two sides to this one is the Kindle and the Kindle Unlimited side and the other is the audio side with Audible. Audible also one of the biggest audio book sellers in the world. So that means when Amazon controls the terms and conditions of being able to use Audible, they can give indie authors 40% of the sale if they are exclusive to Audible and Amazon and 20% have every sale if they are not exclusive, and they dare to also distribute through other platforms. And because they are the biggest distributor in the world, you get less than you should, if you were in any other field and you were a creator licensing their work through a larger platform. In fact, when Brandon Sanderson did his Kickstarter, and then the launching of the audiobooks for that Kickstarter, he went with a different company. And he essentially said, I don’t think Audible is treating their creators, right, I don’t think Amazon is treating their creators well. So I’m taking these huge books, it was the biggest Kickstarter, ever that has ever been, I’m taking these somewhere else, because we need to put some pressure on Amazon and audible to give creators a better share of the royalties that they earn. And then where Kindle is concerned, if you are an author, Kindle Unlimited, is one of the places that gives you access to tons of readers who read a lot, because the only readers who joined Kindle Unlimited, which is a subscription service, and that gives you access to every single book in the KU store. So it’s like Netflix, for books, only everyone is in there, instead of being also on Apple books, and also wherever. And if you are an independent author, meaning you’re not published by one of the big five publishers, traditionally, they forced you into exclusivity. So if you want your book to be available in that subscription platform, the ebook cannot be available anywhere else, even if someone has pirated it and put it on a pirate site without your knowledge. And Amazon’s you know, web scrapers discovered that it’s on there, they can remove your not only your book from Kindle Unlimited, they can remove your entire Kindle account. So even if you were also selling paperbacks through Amazon, they can shut everything down. And they do not even have to give you your last royalty payment. So they retain absolute control over that system. And they don’t do this for big Trad published authors, those authors can be in Kindle Unlimited, and in other places as well. This is only for independent authors. They’re essentially taking the power that they have to force themselves to have the biggest market share. And to punish you if you decide you also want to go elsewhere. Holy shit.

Matt Stagliano 37:20
I didn’t know any of that. What can the author community do to combat that? Is there anything that can be done? Or is the mountain of Amazon lawyers just insurmountable?

Nicole York 37:33
Yeah, it’s not even necessarily the Amazon lawyers. Here’s what happened. Recently. Several authors had their books pirated, and Amazon shut down their accounts. These are the most of the authors who make the majority of their money and money in Kindle Unlimited, they call themselves KU authors. So their entire focus is on Kindle Unlimited. The readers that are in there, they often write relatively quickly and try to get books into the hands of their readers relatively quickly. So they’ve essentially mastered that aspect of the platform. And that’s where all of their attention goes. They may sell their paperback or something in other places, but their entire catalogue is usually NKU. And they’re focused on those readers. When Amazon removes their platform, it takes away their entire ability to earn their income. And so what those authors then did is reached out to the bookish community often on tick tock, because that community is incredibly strong. So they reach out to book talk, and they’re like, this is what happened, my my book got pirated, and Amazon punished me for it. And now I can’t pay my bills. So in response to that, a bunch of readers said, Well, I’m going to cancel my Kindle Unlimited membership. And so a bunch of readers did. Unfortunately, the side effects of that is that the way the Kindle Unlimited works is they have a big pool of all the money from every subscriber. So everybody who subscribes all that money goes into a pot, and then it gets divided out amongst all of the authors via page reads. So every page that gets read is how much you get paid. And it’s like point 004 cents. It’s like a play on Spotify 100%. And so if somebody finishes your entire book, depending on how big your book is, you may get the same amount as you would from an ebook sale, or if your book is large, you may even get a little bit more. So what happens then is that point 00 4% changes based on how many people are in the pool. So if fewer people are subscribing your page read plays are your money per page read goes down. And that may not seem like a big deal until you multiply it by how many books somebody has to read in order to make a monthly income. So those authors then who were still in Kindle Unlimited, when all of these readers dropped out, they saw a drop of several $1,000 per month in their income because now the pool was smaller, and so you’re getting less pages read. Now, I cannot with evidence correlate that risk. results directly to this Kindle, this KU strike that happened. But it did. I mean, it was correlated. So like, I can’t say that that is the cause, but it was correlated. And so unfortunately, that’s part of the power that Amazon has, is that the folks who have built their careers there cannot easily switch out of it. And if something happens to damage, that their entire income gets damaged. And so we who are in this community are constantly walking on eggshells to make sure we’re trying to protect authors, but also trying to fight for, you know, more fair treatment of independent authors who make up the like a bazillion. Like, we sell a lot, as a collective, we are absolutely not in a position of power. When if we’re looking at bargaining, in part, because we don’t have a guild, we don’t have a union. So it’s not as if we can come to the table and say, if you don’t treat us better, we’re going to walk away, if we walk away, we suffer and our families suffer. And that’s not a thing most people are willing to go through on their own with no guarantee that we’re going to look at the other side and see an actual benefit there. Amazon could just say, Bye, we’re going to start writing our own books with AI. And, and there would be nothing we could do.

Matt Stagliano 41:14
It frustrates me, I wonder how many amazing, incredible books are not being read because they’re being stifled by that type of world, right? And trying to find the balance between your own creativity and making a living from that right when we make the switch from this is my hobby into this is my living? If there was someone that came up to you and said, How do I find that balance between? Do I make this a living? Where do I go? Do I have to accept the terms of the king? Or can I rebel a little bit? Are there any other roads for authors to go down to make a good living, when you have this 800 pound gorilla of Amazon in the room?

Nicole York 41:55
Yes, I mean, there, there are certainly options. And those are things I have been looking at and researching for a while. However, I think it’s important to know first, for anybody who does want to go into trying to make a living in a creative field, your chances of success are low like you, you just have to know that and recognize that you it’s a better it’s a better idea for people to work a day job, and then have a creative side hustle long enough to test the waters and make sure that that’s what they want to do. Because as most people discover, once you turn your passion into a job, it becomes work. And it brings with it a lot of this the things that are not included in the passion. So if I just want to write a book, because I love it, that’s one thing. But if I need to be doing outreach, and I need to be doing marketing, and I need to be analyzing my numbers and finding out why my ads aren’t working, and I need to be, you know, reiterating, and iterating over and over again, and all of these things not related to writing, if I’m not prepared to do that, I should not try to turn this into a job unless I can pay somebody to do that additional work for me. So that’s like the first thing that people have to recognize. And then the second thing is there are many, many options, but the viability of them is difficult to gauge. So there are folks who are doing subscription services. Some people are on Patreon, some people are on other places, there’s a new platform coming out called Dream. And I am in the beta for that right now. Where it’s for authors by authors, that platform has been built by authors specifically for authors of fiction to build community and have those things available. And so there are authors who are making six figures that way comfortably. And they’re writing for that subscription audience and you can still find their work on Amazon. But it goes to these people first and they have you know, additional benefits and rights and goodies that the the other audiences don’t get. There are folks who are making a great living that way there are there are people who are selling their audio instead of selling their audiobooks. They are putting their audio books on YouTube and allowing those to get monetized and then they’re making an income off of ads instead of off of readers. That is an option for people as well. Yeah. So there, there are options out there. But the question is, how viable is it? And is there a big enough audience that are going to help you make a living? In the case of subscriptions, most of these platforms do not specialize in funneling people toward the right subscription. They’re just a platform that exists and then you have to bring the readers in with you. So the problem becomes the same problem. How do I find and where do I find people who are going to be willing to pay for this? And that is always the difficulty with with any path you decide to take. The difficulty is finding those readers and then bringing them to where they’re going to be a benefit to you and you’re going to be a benefit to them. Book Talk has been amazing

Matt Stagliano 44:51
for you right and connecting with other parts of the community and do you see more authors moving in that direction, building a strong or community, they’re getting that one shared voice? Or is it just kind of fun to commiserate with other people that you wouldn’t necessarily have access to otherwise? Yeah,

Nicole York 45:09
book talk has been really incredible, in part because of TiC TOCs algorithm, which means that once it learns what you like, it gives you more of these things that you like. And so you have the two options, right, you have your for you page, and then you have your people that you follow. And so you get to check both of those things. And the for you page is great, because it brings you things you may not have thought to look for, which is that, that reach that most most authors are constantly fighting for. And if you’re talking about the kinds of things or making the kinds of books that people like, tick tock will let people find you that way. It will, it will kind of shove you in their faces a little bit and be like you like this, you like this. And if you watch the whole thing, it’s like, Oh, you like it, I’ll give you more. You don’t watch the whole thing. It’s like, well, they didn’t like you. So, you know, like, that’s an important thing to keep in mind. But the book community showed up on tick tock in a really strong way. For some reason, I’m not entirely sure why but readers are they’re just on mass. And they are so powerful in that community that they have changed the face of publishing, like publishing now courts, book talk, test things out on book talk. In fact, Tiktok made an entire linking option, literally for only big five books, in order to court, the book community. Yeah, and the, the, the booktube community didn’t love it, because they’re like, you’re here trying to monetize this. And you don’t even let us link the books of indie authors that we love, like you’re you know, and the interesting thing about book talk is they will not put up with bullshit. So if you show up and try to take advantage of the community without also being part of the community, and like pouring into the community, they will kick you out real fast, it is a really, really interesting space. But if you do show up there, and you’re part of the community, and you support and you comment, and you’re with everybody, the amount of support that you can get in return is really incredible. It is, it is the difference between book launches that nobody saw, and the kind of launch party that you saw the other day where folks are there, and they’re excited, and they’re, they’re interacting, and also making those connections, both of my narrator’s I met that way. And then their friends I’ve met that way and their communities that I now have access to, because we liked one another. And we’re like, that person’s cool. I like the books they like, I want to see what other things they do. So you know, the ability for that to happen, has launched many, many careers. In fact, the number one best selling author in the country right now, Colleen Hoover was a book talk author, and book talk blew her up, and then she went huge. And that has happened with multiple authors. If you have the support of the book talk community, they will build your career. And, and that has happened multiple times. Now, of course, that’s not going to happen to everybody. And for some people, it’s going to be harder than others. But absolutely, if you can find places like that, where the community can gather together, it’s going to change everything. And that is that is my effort going forward is to build community, I would rather write for 1000 people who are going to show up for every single book and talk to me and talk to each other and love it and write their fanfics and make their art and just completely nerd out. And for those folks like I want to give them all of me and I would rather do that and build a tight knit community, then I would fight tooth and nail on Amazon to try to go up one ranking just so it’s more likely that people will see my book, that doesn’t mean I still won’t put my books on Amazon, I will I will put them on there. But I’m not going to I’m not going to give them I’m not going to give Amazon all of me so that they can benefit and I can scrape by, I would rather give all of me to my readers and let them benefit from having my presence and my art and then me benefit from them, then I would go in the other way does that is that going to make it like harder for me, maybe it might. But I just feel like that hard is better. Because I have people on my side than the hard of fighting for Amazon who just does not care.

Matt Stagliano 49:04
It’s the difference between catering to your mailing list, those 300 those 1000 people that really want to hear from you, and trying to go viral on Tiktok to people that will never be a customer will never be a reader they just saw something and they liked it or, you know, they might follow you what not never see again, you know, the greatest successes and everybody that I talked to come from dealing directly with that community, being a participant in whatever it is you’re trying to build and treating each member of that community like your favorite customer. So it seems to be like these communities are kind of popping up around all of these hobbies, again, with a much more engaged audience with people really connecting really supporting each other because they want to take a little bit of that power back.

Nicole York 49:55
It’s interesting we’ve moved out of or or maybe we are moving out of and I think Anybody who like listens to Seth Godin, or reads his work will probably have heard this, but we’re kind of moving into the Creator economy, the connection economy, where instead of consuming, mass produced media, people are tending more toward creators that they enjoy and creators that they want to learn from, and also once that they respect because now your personal ethics are starting to come into it much, much more, which is where that connection economy comes from. And if people disagree with your personal ethics, they don’t want to support your work. And so being present and, and being honest and vulnerable about who you are and what you believe in and the things that you care about, and how that informs your work is becoming more important than it has been in probably the last 100 years. That’s I think, where that particular community shines. And so a lot of at least me and my case, but a lot of people who are looking forward to what is going to happen as AI grows. And as it influences the market more and as more people use it. And as there’s a particular author who was talking about this next year, putting out 10,000 books. And and that is including in various formats. So one book will be paperback, ebook, audiobook, whatever. And, of course, you cannot do that as an individual without the help of AI. In fact, you probably need several people prompting AI, cleaning things up doing all of that stuff. But if you do that, there’s no reason you can’t be putting out several books a day. So when that when things like that happen, the market, of course is going, the market already is flooded, there are hundreds of books going out every day. But if if that happens, and many, many authors are putting out work at that pace, we’re going to have a problem. And then in addition to that, there is going to come a point where readers are, they don’t need to go to authors anymore, they’re going to open up the chat bot on their computer and ask it to write them a story. And it’s going to do that. And it’s going to know them because it knows their preferences. So it’s only going to write things that they like. And so all of the sudden the need for the author or the artists now has been completely removed. Which means people who want to be artists or authors are going to have to come up with a value proposition that is stronger than simply I have a skill set that you don’t have, which is always been the value of skill in the past. Like, up until the last 20 years or so the value of a photographer has been I know how to work a camera, and I know how to handle light and you don’t therefore you need me because I possess a skill set that you don’t have. Same thing for painters, authors, anybody who has a career in those fields. In fact, I should say anybody who has a career that is subject to optimization, like to being the word that I just lost, I don’t think optimization is a word to being automated. So if you can automate a field, then the skill set no longer matters. And if an end user can then go and use that automation, all of a sudden the need for you is gone. Which is why we now have fewer cashiers in stores. If the process can be automated, then you can be removed. So the question is, we have to ask ourselves what cannot be automated? Because people will want to say, oh, no, it’s the human aspect. That’s the most important it’s our human voices. That is not true. I’m sorry to burst people’s bubbles. But that is not true. Because these programs have been trained on human voices to replicate human voices. And then the second part of that is as any, as any author or artists will know. Anytime you produce and share a piece of art, you’re having a three way conversation. Essentially, the person who consumes the art interprets the art and half of the art they experience is what is inside their head, what they brought to the equation and what they interpreted either from what they read or saw or heard. That is why one person can love a piece and think it’s a masterpiece, and another person can think it’s a piece of crap, we bring the art with us by virtue of what we are as humans, and there’s a relatively low barrier or low bar, I should say, to the quality that something has to be before people can enjoy it. This is why works that are are not that impressive in terms of the skill of the Creator. There are lots of people that still love it and buy it and talk about it and recommend it on on every type of art form. From photography to books, there are books that weren’t really very well written if you want to talk about technique, but people loved it, and they love the story and they are willing to share it. And AI has been trained on those stories. And with people bringing their own interpretations to things. There’s a relatively low barrier there, which means anybody who is not up here is going to be swallowed by people who are willing to consume down here. So what can we give readers then? Or viewers then the AI cannot do for them? What experience can we provide? How deep is the world? Do we have communities is that They’re also visual media and auditory things like how can and what can we build them that AI can’t touch. And the main thing I think we’re going to see is community, people that love the same things we love and that want to be around us and want to hear from us, me as a person, I’m the only one of me that there is. And I hope to God that that is going to be a connective tissue, and that entire fabric of what these communities will look like each other the spirit of the community, if anybody has ever been part of a community, you’ll know it isn’t like any other community, it becomes a body in and of itself that functions in a certain way and feels a certain way it makes you feel something. And so those communities, then I think will, will become like the streaming services, we will pick and choose which communities we want to be a part of, and which ones to give our support to and which ones we want to consume from and who we want to support. And I see that happening as a kind of bandaid over the wound that AI and that this mindset that we have built in capitalism, where everything has to have exponential growth. And then everybody falls off that growth curve, like everybody who’s not riding the very top of the wave falls off at the bottom, they crash and burn and get crushed, I think we’re going to see these types of things become the salve or the bandage for that. And that is where a lot of us are going to fall. And at that point, if I have 1000, people who love my work, I don’t need a million people. In fact, a million people, I will never be able to make them happy all the time. 1000 people, I might have a shot at that. And I might even be able to know them, and remember when their birthdays are, or know something about their kids, and they may care about me enough to know that if I ended up in the hospital, they’re not going to be upset if they have to wait a couple of weeks for the next chapter, you know, they may send me a card, like those kinds of things, I think are going to be the change that we have to see in our communities. If we want to keep surviving as creators, the global

Matt Stagliano 57:02
reach the global growth, the access to everybody all at once is actually driving us ironically, into smaller and smaller groups of just connected humans. And you know, there were a couple of stories I wrote down three, while we were while we were chatting that just kind of sprung to mind to talk about all these AI issues, there was a terrifying story I saw about a mom receiving a phone call that had a replicated voice of her daughter. And he said that I have your daughter, and she was perfectly fine with her dad at the time completely somewhere else. That’s terrifying to me, right? The ethical use of voice replication. There are all these gurus online, that when you were talking about, you know, false skills that AI creates for you, and they’re creating ad agencies, and we can, you know, do all this copy for you. And it’s just basically scamming money from people when they haven’t built up the experience to know how to do this other than entering a prompt into AI. And then the third was the photograph when Sony awards that was all AI generated. That was a huge story, as I tried desperately to land the plane because I could talk to you for literally hours about all of this and go back and forth and back and forth. Is AI going to be this year’s NF T. Right? Everybody was super on board with the NF t’s a year or two ago is AI just at that weird inflection point where everybody thought everybody’s tongues. And then six months from now, it’ll just be so engrained into everything that we do that it’s kind of like oh, yeah, I guess that’s, that’s a I think we’ll still be having these conversations in a year.

Nicole York 58:41
Honestly, I don’t think we are ready for the, for the like the third term order of effects that’s going to happen because of AI. when Google came along and started to get heavily adopted and became like an integral part of our culture, we completely lost the ability to do research through books, right? So if somebody had to look up, if somebody had to go through an encyclopedia and try to find out about mockingbirds, they wouldn’t know where to look. Where do you even find an encyclopedia now? Right? How do you go to a library and do research? Most people can use Google Scholar, they cannot go to a library and even know which book to choose. Because we’ve outsourced that skill set. And AI is going to be the mass outsourcing of skill set, just like calculators or the mass outsourcing of of, you know, simple mathematics, AI is going to become the second brain that people rely on in order to tell them things. And the unfortunate part is that most of us have not been taught the kind of critical thinking that we need to know when to trust AI and when not to and because it has access to so much information. It’s humans have a confidence bias. If somebody is confident we are biased toward believing what they have to say AI cannot be anything but confident because that’s what it is. is, and so it’s going to repeat to us the things that it has learned. And we’re going to believe what it says. And worse than that, and this is the thing that does make me nervous. Worse than that is because humans are social animals, and we anthropomorphize anything that has human characteristics. So our dogs are people. And our cats are people, whales are people, everybody is a people, because we put human characteristics into them, even when they’re not there. And with this AI with the language based models, we are going to personalize them, we can’t help it, I find myself still, if I jump into chat GPT because I want to see something I will ask it, please. And I will tell it, thank you. And I will say, can you do this for me instead of do this thing, right? Because it’s, it’s in us to be that way. And so I think the danger is that we’re going to forget that it’s not a people, and that we’re going to trust it when it tells us things and we won’t have, we will be losing skill sets on mass. It’s not as if, when when the industrial revolution happened, if somebody needed to bake a cake, they could still do that they didn’t have to go buy a box of crusties, it just made your life easier, right? And an AI as it becomes a production tool, we’re going to go to it because the market demands that we make things faster, and more and more often. And so we will find ourselves relying on it, because we don’t have a choice if we want to survive. And then soon we’re we’re going to find ourselves relying on it, because we don’t have the skill sets that we would need to survive otherwise. And that’s the part, I think, to be concerned with, from my perspective. And I think if we are going to maintain any kind of psychological distance from that, we have to, we have to take some steps to mitigate those third order effects that we can’t see things like, I don’t know if this means we need a human made badge, you know, like there needs to be a sign on something that says that this was made from Ai. Back in the day when the Industrial Revolution was happening, and we were mass revolutionising our agriculture, the government actually initially was forcing companies to put artificial on the packaging. So artificial bread, artificial milk, whatever. If things had been tampered with to the point, you know, that they needed to be considered artificial. Unfortunately, those companies had so much money, they then went and bullied the government and until they made them take that tag off. But I think that that’s what we need, I think we need an artificial tag, I don’t have the same problem with things like mid journey that a lot of artists have. But I do want to know what it is. And if it is being used as a piece of art in itself. So like, if somebody is saying, I’m an artist, here’s a piece of art, I need to know that it is yours or that it that you prompt it that I want to know if your hand was the hand that drew the brushstroke. If it’s being used purely as a promotional thing, like this is what my character could look like, I don’t care who made it at that point, I don’t need to know if it is a piece of AI, because it’s just a fleeting piece of something that helps me get an idea in my own head. But if you want to sell it to me, if you want me to buy that, I deserve to know what I’m buying, I think. Because if I want a piece made by a people, I deserve to know that that’s what I’m getting. And so I think in that case, that’s kind of what we need to have, if it’s an integrated piece that’s a little bit different. If you prompted something and you got a background, and then you painted on that background and you maybe composited something, and at that point, it’s integrated. There’s a big human touch there. I don’t have a problem with you keeping that to yourself. But if it is entirely coming out of a computer, I may still love it. I might still look at it and be like, That is gorgeous. I want that. But I do deserve the right to know what it is. And I think that needs to be the case. On mass as we see AI take up bigger and bigger chumps chunks of these artistic fields. If a book was written with AI, it should be labeled as such.

Matt Stagliano 1:04:02
Yeah, I agree. You know, there’s, there’s the, again, the ethical dilemma of what do you disclose? Right. There’s a copy on my website that I’ve used Chad GPT to help me with to rephrase some things right. And I have no bones if anybody asked me about have I used it in absolutely helps you write newsletters every week. Yep. But there’s got to be that human element and I think it’s becoming there’s been so much output so quickly. People are becoming very savvy to that sounds that sounds generated. I can tell. Right it just doesn’t have the same nuance colloquialisms, whatever it might be. But you said something that made me laugh really, really hard. Because I find myself doing it all the time. I don’t want to bother mid journey. I know it’s got a lot going on. It’s got a lot to do. And I go in there and I create a prompt and I create something I say I’m gonna give it a second before I upscale or before I create new versions because I’m sure it’s doing a lot. I don’t want to be a bother. I don’t want to hit a limit and have it yell at me. I do the same thing with Chad GPT that you do. Can you do this? For me? Yes. Oh, relieved, thank you so much.

Nicole York 1:05:12
Yeah, and I think I think the difference to Matt is that when you’re using chat GPT, to help with, you know, content on your website, or in your newsletter, you’re not selling people, the thing that chat GPT made, you’re using that to help write productivity tool, right to help be clear about what you’re offering, like the service you’re offering, or to help, you know, let people know what you have going on in your newsletter or whatever. Like, those things are not necessarily required, because I’m not buying that, like, I’m not buying your blog post or right, it’s just helping me understand more about what you do, because you’re selling what you do. And that is the difference. If I was using chat, GPT to write blog posts about the chat GPT book that chat GPT wrote that I prompted, and then you bought it thinking it was my book, well, then that’s dishonest, right. And this is not even touching the ethical concerns on how these, you know, neural networks learn by scraping that like that. So that is a whole different conversation on on what the ethics are of that. And personally, I don’t think the problem is where it’s getting its information. And I know, a lot of people are not going to like that. But I can go learn from your copyrighted works and sell shit that’s just like you and nobody will stop me. That happens to me. I mean, almost any artists who has reached any amount of people, people have stolen your work, that people have copyrighted my articles and got hundreds of 1000s of views to the point where my company had to go after them and be like, Hey, play Dreiser, you know, like, you can’t do that.

That is going to happen anyway. Every time we make something, we’re training other people on how to be like us if they want to the problem is the exponential side of it. The problem is the fact that it can out compete you

so much that there’s you cannot make enough in a lifetime to compete with how much it can make. And then the ultimate problem is that people now can use it to replace you. And that’s the big issue that we have to be thinking about. But that’s why my focus is what we were talking about earlier, I’m going to build community. And I’m going to give people as much of myself as I can. And I’m going to make a place where they can go be around people who are like them that love the kind of stuff that they like. And I’m going to use all of the creative skills that I’ve built that are in my shell, there’s Michelle, over the past, however long and I’m going to drag those things to the forefront to try to make these worlds as real and vivid, and things that you can interact with as much as possible. Like, does that mean, I might use AI to pretend to be one of my characters that people can talk to you like, can you show up and there’s a picture of Ronan, and you can ask him questions. And he responds, that would be pretty freakin cool, right? Like, yeah, maybe I can use AI for that, because everybody knows what it is. And it’s fun. And it’s just another aspect of things. But I have to give them something it can’t. And I have to fight with Amazon, and that you know, all of the things that are stacked against us. But that’s what we do. As artists, we are pivotal years. We are flexible, we figure things out. We think creatively, that’s how we solve these problems. So I will not be stopped.

Or my head would

I will not build a better mousetrap. It’s build a bigger Trevor Shay,

Matt Stagliano 1:08:19
Trebuchet every time wrapping up. What’s the what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about being creative? Oh, that’s a really good question.

Nicole York 1:08:30
The first thing that pops in my head, and maybe I’ll think of something else later, but the first thing that pops in my head is Dr. Seuss. There’s no one who is younger than you.

That’s what we have to offer the world entirely. Somebody is always going to be a better painter than me a better writer than me a better anything than me. But nobody can be better at being me than I can. My whole job is to be as much of myself as I can. And as honest about that as I can and do the things that is in me to do and and that’s it. I love that. I love that. I’m gonna leave it there. You have had an incredible week, you’ve launched a book, set the stage for another whole series, there is nothing you can’t do. I’m so grateful that we had a chance to do this. You have no idea the regard in which I hold you and to be able to just kind of sit down and talk about this one on one really meant the world. So thank you so much, Nicole. Thank you for having me. Is there anything that you want to plug? Where can people find you? Nicole is the hub of everything. You can find everything else from there. My pen name is McEwan it’s MC ke O N You’re never gonna be able to pronounce it because it doesn’t look like what it sounds like.

But yeah, those those two things you’ll find me everything that makes Tik Tok Is there a community or hashtag that people should look for your stuff? At Nicole your creates at Nicole your creates Perfect. Thank you my friend. You’re amazing. You. I’ll talk to you in a bit. Bye bye


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