Meet RR Haywood – The Bestselling Indie Author Fighting Back Against AI – Global Man

Meet RR Haywood – The Bestselling Indie Author Fighting Back Against AI

RR Haywood is one of Britain’s bestselling independent authors and a passionate champion of self-publishing. But recently a threat greater than the zombie pandemic in his hugely successful The Undead series is giving him cause for concern: AI. Fearing that indie authors could become extinct in the face of bot-built books churned out by unscrupulous hustlers, he is fighting back with NO-AI.

Within just over a decade, RR Haywood has gone from aspiring writer to one of the UK’s most successful indie authors.

He’s amassed more than four million sales to date, is a Washington Post and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and is the creative mind behind Britain’s bestselling horror book series – The Undead.

With more than 40 books to his name, nearly 30 of which are Kindle and Audible bestsellers, and a screen adaptation of The Undead in the works, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Haywood is looking confidently to the next 10 years of his career.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He genuinely fears that within as little as five years he — along with all other self-published authors — could well be “extinct”, muscled out of the market by a competitor that only a few years ago Haywood was happily writing about in his sci-fi smash, DELIO.

Now, though, DELIO’s big bad — artificial intelligence — doesn’t seem quite so fictional.

Sure, AI’s not self-aware (yet), and hasn’t expressed any interest in taking over the planet, but it doesn’t need to. The likes of Chat GPT are already sophisticated enough to turn the literary world upside down if used irresponsibly, and Haywood says he is already seeing the repercussions.

He says that Amazon, the go-to publishing and sales platform for indie authors, is being increasingly flooded with thousands of AI-generated books, dashed out by “unscrupulous hustlers” at the touch of a button.

And this is a battle of quantity, not quality.. They may not be great reads but with most bot-made books costing less to buy than titles by flesh-and-blood authors, and few indicating their AI origins, they pose an “existential threat” to DIY authors, who increasingly stand little chance of recouping their money, let alone turning a profit.

“On average, it costs someone a minimum of a few thousand pounds to self-publish when you take all the things required — professional editing, cover design, proofing, and formatting— into consideration,” explains Haywood. 

“And that doesn’t factor in the author’s time actually writing the book, which can take several months.

“Every book  published is, in fact, a record of the author’s blood, sweat, and tears, but the opportunity for all that hard work and financial investment to pay off is becoming slimmer all the time.

“AI software is now at the point that anyone can churn out books without any real talent or care, and unscrupulous hustlers have seized on this in a bid to cash in.

“Consumers are already struggling to identify what’s real from what’s not, and with thousands of new AI-generated books hitting Amazon and other sales platforms every week, the problem is only getting worse.

“Should this continue, all self-published authors will take a big financial hit while many will almost have no hope of ever breaking even or being able to write for a living.

“This may sound apocalyptic but we could see the extinction of independent authors within five years, which would be a terrible loss when you consider how entertaining, rewarding and breathtakingly bold and original self-published books can be.”

Within a decade, RR Haywood has established himself as one of the UK’s bestselling indie authors, with fans around the world clamouring for the latest entries into his The Undead series and other works.

The prospect of tomorrow’s talented indie authors never being able to break away from the nine to five is particularly galling to Haywood, who was able to retire from his career as a policeman in 2019 after almost two decades in service.

A voracious reader since childhood, especially works of horror and science-fiction, he had long dreamed of becoming an author but for many years thought it was a world “not for the likes of me”.

“The traditional idea of an ‘author’, certainly among mainstream publishers, was and still remains to a large degree someone from a middle-class background, with a university education and most likely an expensive creative writing course or two under their belt.

“That’s why the rise of self-publishing was a godsend. It finally took the keys away from publishers and meant that anyone stood a chance of making it.

“I decided to take the plunge after reading an amazing self-published novel bought off Amazon called Three Feet Of Sky by Stephen Ayres.

“There was no shortage of ideas for stories in my head so I thought I’d give it a go, teaching myself not only the mechanics of book publishing but also the nuts and bolts of writing at the same time.”

His first published book, Undead Day One, was by his own admission “as rough in the middle as around the edges”, but with each successive instalment, Haywood continued to hone his writing skills and build his audience.

He then collected the first seven books together in The Undead: The First Seven Days, which gradually took off, leading Haywood to secure a three-book deal with publisher 47North for his Extracted trilogy, which went on to become a global bestseller.

But while he has continued to release select new books through traditional publishers, his signature series, The Undead, has always remained self-published.

“I’ve always intended to keep self-publishing The Undead,” says Haywood. “Frankly, I love the total creative freedom that indie publishing gives me, along with the immediacy of connecting with readers.”

But his experiences with the latest eight novellas in The Undead series, collectively falling under the umbrella of ‘Series Five: The Rain’, have for the first time led him to question the long-term viability of self-publishing.

Each of the new books has gone on to top the Amazon charts upon release but Haywood says that he and other indie authors have experienced significant publishing delays via Amazon, which he attributes to a “flood of AI books clogging up the system”.

This, he adds, has “served as an early wake-up call” about the disruptive effect of AI.

And because bot-made books are exclusively sold online, it is a problem primarily facing indie authors. Writers whose books are released through mainstream publishers will be less affected as their titles are also sold in book shops and other brick-and-mortar retailers.

Haywood has joined a growing list of creatives who are calling for government and corporate intervention to help level the playing field against AI.

In the meantime, however, he has taken things into his own hands, creating the world’s first stamp of authenticity to show that a book has been written by a human and not by AI.

The ‘NO-AI label, an acronym for ‘Naturally Original – Authentically Invented’, now features on the covers of all Haywood’s books.

Bestselling indie author RR Haywood fears that left unchallenged, a flood of AI-created books could drive self-published authors to extinction within five years. In response, he has created the NO-AI label to make clear to readers that his books are written by a human, not machine. 

He has also made the label freely available on his website as a download for other authors and publishers to use.

“The NO-AI label is a line in the sand being drawn by genuine authors against the AI-exploiting hustlers,” he says.

“There’s strength in numbers. The more who use it on their books, the easier it will be for readers to instantly distinguish real from artificial.

“And that’s key because who willingly wants to read a story crafted by a computer, lacking the soul that authors pour into each and every book?

“I don’t think my readers have ever had any doubts that the gritty, darkly humorous, and character-driven fiction that’s become my signature is written by anyone or anything other than me!

“But all the same, the NO-AI label only makes this clearer and I’m thrilled that it’s really taken off, with over a thousand downloads already..

“It makes me feel justified in fighting back but, more than that, it makes me feel hopeful again for the future of independent publishing, the place I came from and where I’m proud to remain.”

RR Haywood’s books, including The Undead, are available on Amazon For more information, visit or follow RR Haywood on Twitter or Facebook.

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