Dear Author, Are You Human? Certifying Authenticity

Header image: The letters "AI" struck through with a red line on a red background (credit: sofirinaja /

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that where there is an issue of concern for writers, someone will find a way to monetize it.

And with AI suddenly omnipresent in our lives (or at least in the media), creators are confronted with a bewildering multiplicity of issues of concern, from unauthorized use of creative works for machine learning, to whether AI-created work is covered by copyright, to crappy AI-created books inundating Amazon and in some cases impersonating real writers, to the replacement of (expensive) creators with (cheap) generative AI tools like ChatGPT and MidJourney, to the looming prospect of machine-created art or novels or journalism becoming indistinguishable from the work of humans.

In this fraught environment, it was probably inevitable that enterprising people would come up with the idea of a service to certify or authenticate human authorship, and invite creators to buy into it. This post takes a look at two such services.

The Authenticity Initiative

The originator of The Authenticity Initiative is Eliza Rae, who also offers social media, brand management, and PR services for authors. The Authenticity Initiative provides a seal to authors who pledge not to use AI-generated content in their work, along with a number of additional perks, including a newsletter and promotional opportunities. The cost: $50 per year.

Of course, as illustrated by the Bob the Wizard kerfluffle (in which a cover artist who swore their art was not AI-assisted turned out to be fibbing) as well as a general knowledge of human nature, the question is the degree to which a voluntary promise is actually equivalent to certification. I reached out to Eliza for comment, and you can see her response to that question in the Q&A below.

WRITER BEWARE: The Authenticity Initiative seems to rely on authors to self-certify that their work contains no AI-generated content. Do you have any concern that some authors may not be honest?

ELIZA RAE: Yes, that’s exactly correct. While technology and laws that govern AI are limited, we decided that a trust based platform for authors and readers to come together was the best way to service this aspect of the community until more legislation and/or publishing platforms have caught up to technology issues and the pitfalls of what is and is not considered legal to scrape or use to train generative AI software. 

Secondly, social initiatives such as this are driving forces for change. We hope to build the platform to serve as an additional influence for publisher platforms to hear the collective author and reader voices and their concerns about generative AI. We seek to add to the conversation in the best way we can to help the community.

Lastly, we are considering and vetting programs that identify generative AI content, but this may take some time to prove whether it is a viable resource and does not violate our core mission. My chief concerns are to keep the initiative social in nature, a community of trust, and a place for original voices to be heard. That said, I cannot control if people lie, but we do offer a reporting function on our website for anyone that believes an author has used generative-AI. At which time, we would ask for proof of copyright, and investigate further.

WB: Do you have any procedures in place to verify authors’ claims of no AI-generated content? For example, do you audit authors’ works? If so, how?

ER: Our audit extends to their presence on social media (more than just seeing if they have profiles, we’re looking for genuine presence, and not a bot like persona) and we verify their books are listed on selling platforms and review sites such as Goodreads and BookBub. We will not be running every book every author has published through a program to detect generative AI use. As I mentioned above, we want this to remain a social platform/community of trust, and keep the associated costs of membership to a nominal yearly expense for authors. We will handle issues as they arise.

WB: Why should readers trust The Authenticity Initiative’s seal?

ER: Honestly, I don’t think trust is that black and white. Trust isn’t just in a program that says “yes or no.” There are multiple factors and reasons why readers would join. Most importantly, the authors that share the initiative with their readers have trust that’s already built from them, and those that have joined our newsletter from my sharing, have trust in my business that I’ve built over nearly a decade of working with many authors. And that’s the community we’re trying to build, trusted authors and businesses that have come together to take a stand against something we don’t believe in and impacts the market and reader trust in a real way. The reality of the world, in my opinion, is anyone can manipulate or lie if they want to. I can’t imagine there is a program or initiative out there that people haven’t taken advantage of in some form or fashion, but I won’t let the possibility of someone with nefarious intent sneaking in stop what we are trying to accomplish. I will however do what I can to keep the integrity of our mission as safeguarded as I can. I will implement tools and resources as they become available after proper evaluation, but again, a social initiative and community trust is at the epicenter of what we are creating.

WB: What action, if any, would you take if an author’s pledge were shown to be false?

ER: After an investigation, if an author is found to have used generative-AI knowingly, they will immediately be removed from our list, be required to remove our seal from all works, and cease having access to all our services. A permanent ban of that pen name will occur. If the situation requires consideration for services such as a cover artist using generative AI unbeknownst to the author, those types of things will be handled on a case by case basis. We’re not looking to penalize people that don’t know something has occurred, but we will seek to educate and provide information to avoid such situations from happening. We are currently building an information base for such things. 

WB: What makes membership worth $50 every year? For example, your website mentions promotional opportunities–can you comment on what those will be? 

ER: Once a year membership fees will allow TAI to maintain the cost of our website, services and programs used, and paid advertising each year. As we grow, it will also allow for additional promotional opportunities such as newsletter slots in our reader newsletter, builder campaigns, and featured books on our website. We have a lot planned and the potential to spread the word for authors is huge, but the platform must continue building right now to get to a place where there are more books to offer our readers and get our message out there.


Authortegrity is a project of Damon Freeman of Damonza, the popular cover art and book formatting service (which recently announced that it will be incorporating generative AI into its book cover designs unless authors opt out).

Not yet launched but inviting writers to sign up for early access, Authortegrity will undertake an initial AI-powered text analysis, followed by human verification. The result, for those who pass the tests: certification of human authorship, “serving as a beacon of trust for readers and literary communities”.

As you’ll see from the Q&A that follows, it’s a complicated process that applies some rigor to a difficult and slippery task–but also includes what could be considered to be compromises, notably the definition of “human-authored” as work with 50% (or more) human-created content. I’m told that testing will begin in September, with the rollout planned for October.

AUTHORTEGRITY: Firstly, I  just want to mention the main objective of this system is to provide transparency to readers as well as protect real human authors. Ideally, the system should be testing for fully-AI authored work, and labeling those books as AI-generated, but as it’s a voluntary system, that would rely on those AI-book generators submitting their books in order to be AI-verified, which is unlikely. Therefore, the alternative is that authors submit human-authored books to be verified as such. For the moment, we’re classifying “human-authored” books as work where 50% or more of the book was originally created or written by a human. We recognize AI has great potential to help authors with many aspects of the writing process, including character development, research, editing, etc., but for the service to be of any value, “human-authored” needs some sort of definition.

Secondly, it’s important to note that this system is still in early testing. It’s not a straightforward AI-content check, and relies on many processes working together. So far, the model works, but there is still some way to go before it can be released for larger testing groups. Those authors who have registered for early access will be invited for the later stages of testing. The results of each testing phase determines the changes that need to be made, or even if the system is worthwhile. For now, so far, so good.

WRITER BEWARE: Your website mentions AI-powered text analysis as a first step in verifying human authorship. Can you tell me more about this? Is it proprietary to you?

The AI detection tool is not proprietary to us. We are actively exploring various options for the AI detection part of our verification process. Currently, we are testing, which claims a high accuracy rate, particularly for longer works. However, we acknowledge that no AI detection tool is perfect, and as a result, we are not committing to a single solution just yet. In fact, we may end up using a combination of AI-content detection services.

Very importantly, the system goes beyond relying solely on AI detection. We are dedicated to creating a robust system that combines multiple means of identifying human authorship. While AI detection will certainly play a role in the evaluation process, it only contributes a percentage to the final score. The service incorporates other criteria that carry more weight in ensuring the accuracy and integrity of our certification. This approach will result in a more comprehensive and reliable certification process. The system builds a picture of the author or publisher as whole, not just the book in isolation. For example, real identity checks, ISBN matching, how many other books has this author published? When? Do they have a history of writing books that clearly ARE NOT AI-generated (e.g. published pre-2022). There are other verifications involved that are not focused on the actual content of the book.

WB: Your website also promises “expert human verification”. Who will these humans be and what qualifications will they have?

A: With the sheer volume of reading required, it’s practically impossible for humans to verify each work entirely. However, they will play a crucial role in verifying other criteria that authors are able to provide for the work, like early drafts, evidence of collaboration, etc. Importantly, it won’t be an automated email or artificial intelligence telling an author they didn’t write a book and that’s that. There will be real people reviewing applications that do not pass the checks, and following up with authors with real feedback. We have not yet started hiring for this as we’ve not reached that part of the process yet. For now, the testing phase is assuming those elements are true.

WB: OpenAI recently deactivated its AI classifier due to its “low rate of accuracy”. According to research from Stanford University, human readers were only able to distinguish between human and AI text with around 50% success. Some researchers believe it may never be possible to reliably say if a text is written by a human or AI. How will you ensure that your service offers the high accuracy rate necessary to provide a meaningful certification?

A: The accuracy of the system works on a scoring model, based on a combination of events and processes, that determine the probability that a book was written by a human. It does this by first building a profile of the author, looking at things like their history and behavior, and then puts a few barriers in place that require a small amount of effort to bypass. That’s followed by an AI-content check, and then depending on all the previous outcomes, further checks of varying degrees of “hassle.” The process is designed to be too onerous for an AI-generated book creator to bother with but easy enough for a regular author to accomplish. The certification is “worth it” for the real author but “not worth it” for an AI-book generator. Some of the additional checks in place include real identification, peer vouching checks, provision of early drafts/source material (if necessary), and the ability of readers to confirm or dispute verifications.

Ultimately, the process is built to discourage AI-book generators from using the service at all, due to the effort involved – it will take more effort to cheat the service than any benefit received from service. Again, it’s important to note that this will still be tested extensively, and based on our results, we would tweak it so that the highest level of accuracy is achieved, for the least amount of effort from real authors. There is a higher level of detail that outlines the entire system, but it is a work in progress and is changing daily.

WB: How much of the book will be analyzed, both via algorithm and by humans?

A: The entire manuscript will be checked by AI detection tools, while all other checks will be done by humans and logic-built software. The logic that we’re building into the platform is proprietary.

WB: What will the cost of the service be? 

A: We are yet to determine the fee for each verification, if any. A fee would discourage many AI-generated book creators from using the service, which is a good reason to include it as part of the process, but any fee also needs to match the value being offered to real authors. Before any fee system is established, we still need to ensure all other processes are reliable and effective. We are also looking at a potential model where the verification is free, although this might be difficult to achieve because of the costs associated with verifying each book, and it takes away one of the verification steps.

This is an important service that we’re not taking lightly. Testing is rigorous. For now, it’s a work-in-progress. I’d be happy to let you know when we open up the larger-scale testing.

Important to Authors…But to Readers?

As far as I know, The Authenticity Initiative and Authortegrity are the only two human authorship certification services of their kind–for now. I’m sure there will be more. It’s a major issue of concern for creators, and as such, an obvious opportunity for entrepreneurship.

Is it worth buying into one of these services, though? Beyond the issue of whether a pledge can be trusted, or whether 50% of human-written content is sufficient to define a work as human-created, the larger question that overshadows both these initiatives is how much readers actually care.

My news and social media feeds are stuffed with articles and discussions of AI and its implications for creators, but its impact on readers, viewers, and listeners? Not so much. Maybe it’s just too soon to be able to gauge how consumers will adjust to generative AI’s chaotic and incredibly swift arrival in the creative disciplines. But it’s already pretty clear that audiobook listeners aren’t shying away from machine-narrated books, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is avoiding websites or news outlets that run ChatGPT-created articles (the few that admit it). If the average moviegoer doesn’t mind that many popular movies are 80% CGI, why would they balk at AI-generated actors? How many readers will avoid an exciting-sounding book if they know the author relied on ChatGPT or the cover designer used AI art?

Both The Authenticity Initiative and Authortegrity hold out additional visibility–with, presumably, the added sales that could bring–as an incentive to sign up for their services. The chimerical promise of exposure is always a draw for writers, perpetually struggling to find a way to stand out. But will the average book buyer be motivated to go out of their way to find books that are certified to be human-authored? Will displaying a seal make it more likely that they’ll purchase them? I’m not so sure.

It’s early days in the AI revolution. We’ll be waiting a while to find out.


  1. Overall, I think there needs to be some sort of standard for using AI when writing a book. It is also depends what the AI was used for.

    For example AI could be used to correct the work that you have already written, make it more interesting to read, add some details and depth to the scenes and characters. In that case I don’t see an issue with it because it becomes a supporting tool while still the biggest amount of work, story plot and character progression is done by the author without relying on AI for that.

    In such case AI becomes a tool just like word corrector or other similar editing software.

    1. But surely adding ‘details and depth to the scenes and characters’ is the role of the human writer? This isn’t the MS Word checking spelling and Grammarly correcting syntax. I’d have thought it’s what a (human) editor should be relaying to an author whose work is shallow in places for them to add more detail.

  2. “its impact on readers, viewers, and listeners? Not so much. Maybe it’s just too soon …”

    For readers, there will be a few potential problems, mainly: tons of AI-generated dreck flooding the marketplace, making it more difficult for them to find actual coherent stories; and error-ridden AI-generated nonfiction on which they cannot rely to be a reliable reference.

  3. A more cynical person (read: me) would applause the business model.

    Let’s say 2000 authors pay for the seal, and get a little bitmap in return. That’s 2000 x 50 = 100000 for a bitmap…

    Okay, that’s a little harsh, perhaps, but effectively the seal doesn’t prove anything, and those that obtained the seal could be 🤥 lying…

    Yes, it is a problem.
    Yes. It needs te be solved.
    Yes, this is a nice initiative.

    But I’ll create my own bitmap seal, and you can get a copy of it for $25.

    I’m not saying this initiative is bad, or that the people behind it are cheating. They’re all good intending individuals, fighting the evilness on our doorstop, bit how will it actually help selling an additional book, and protect me from the abuse I’ve seen by other, less scrupulous writers, who flood Amazon with barely readable AI and slave labour written novels?

    I’m not convinced… Yet.

  4. Thank You Ms Strauss. I never said I used it. My son showed it to me and asked it to write a story about us going on an adventure. ChatGpt had it written in seconds. It was all telling. Apparently I didn’t make myself clear.

  5. I followed a link over here and didn’t know what to make of: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that where there is an issue of concern for writers, someone will find a way to monetize it.” Followed just three paragraphs later by: “The Authenticity Initiative provides a seal to authors who pledge not to use AI-generated content in their work, along with a number of additional perks, including a newsletter and promotional opportunities. The cost: $50 per year.”

    But based on your comments, it feels like they was an intentional juxtaposition.

  6. We may end up using personal, one-on-one certification – some way of asking and answering a short question or essay topic with some actual writing by the entity claiming to be human.

    I’m pretty sure that after a couple of emails back and forth, you would be willing to assume I’m human. We could also add a zoom component.

    It will be a while before bots are as devious as Real Humans (TM?). It would be fun to try.

  7. Victoria– I am extremely disturbed that Writer Beware would post something like this–they ADMIT that they are committing theft by using AI art! What the hell is wrong with Writer Beware????????? I thought the whole point of Writer Beware was to BEWARE of organizations like this? I guess I was wrong.

    1. Say what? Who is admitting that they commit theft?

      I write a lot about things to beware. But I also write about the publishing industry and publishing trends, where things aren’t always so black and white. In this case, as so often, writers need to look at the facts and make up their own minds.

    2. Hmm . . . I think it’s more nuanced than that.

      For instance, pretty much most creative work is derivative. The ole adage that there’s nothing new under the sun holds true for nearly all creative endeavors. Basically, whether consciously or subconsciously, everything I write, although unique to me, is based on the cumulative knowledge of what I read before adapted to what I like.

      Artists who learn to draw don’t start in a vacuum; often they start out copying previous works. Musician, dancers, you name it, they do the same until grow into their style. Fan fiction, for instance, is much closer to copyright infringement than what AI does. Heck, someone told me I sometimes write like Hemingway . . . and I’ve never read Hemingway.

      When someone copies a certain style are they stealing it or learning from it? Maybe they saw it and decided they wanted to incorporate it into their work, whole or in part. Many of the artists currently complaining can trace their works to earlier works. On particular vociferous individual has a style that reminds me very much of earlier works by people long dead. Heck, some elements and details resemble the style in Michelangelo’s works.

      The courts have given a lot of leeway to derivative works unless copied whole cloth without any or much innovation (if interested, there is a lot of case law regarding copyright infringement of creative works).

      As an amateur photographer, I’m constantly scouring for images that give me ideas of what can be done with a camera. Am I stealing someone’s work? Only if I’m passing myself off as the individual in question (there are hundreds of courses teaching photographers how to do what the pros do, and the same for writers, and for other artists).

      In the end, the argument is this: is the AI copying the original work or adapting it to a new creation? Given my experience with it, I see AI creations as unique. Remember, you can’t copyright ideas, nor can you copyright style.

      1. I agree. Every creator borrows. And I think AI will become part of creatives’ toolbox, though exactly how it will integrate isn’t yet clear.

        There is the foundational question, though, of AI training on copyrighted text and images without the owners’ permission. I’m not optimistic about how that will resolve; I think time and custom will normalize it, just as Google’s book scanning has been normalized as fair use. So creators (and the world) get a new, powerful, transformative tool; but also one that can replace them, and that erodes even further the protections of copyright.

      2. Following the success of Harry Potter, how many boy wizard tales did we see? Movies, even.

        I ask because I see little difference between a writer coopting a piece of fiction and an AI doing the same.

        The argument is often one of scale. No one would complain about someone looking at copyrighted images and adapting their style to their own work. What if it’s a million people who do that?

        Even then, there’s an uneasy feeling that a computer doing that same thing is ‘different’ . . . but no one (that I’ve read so far) can quatify *how* it is different. It is pretty clear that an artist incorporating someone’s else’s style in his work is not in legal jeopardy even though they too trained on copyrighted images without the owner’s permission. Isn’t that what we all do day in and day out as we surf the Internet?

        The argument then shifts to the AI being able to do it faster, and that’s somehow ‘bad’ . . . but, again, that is not a legal argument. The printing press was able to churn out copies of books ‘faster’ and that was ultimately deemed a good thing.

        I’m sympathetic to the argument but try as I might, I don’t see a solid legal argument favoring the complaint.

        As for protection from copyright infringement, per my understanding, it doesn’t protect a creator’s idea or style; only the actual product.

        Note: I’m not thrilled by the advent of AI for another reason. Much like calculators eroded people’s math skills, so will ChatGPT and AI Art generators erode people’s abilities to create. They will still generate stuff, but they won’t have the same connection to their work, and likely would not be able to create those works without AI help. Good, bad? I don’t know. Maybe it will free us to do more. Maybe it will dilute and diminish human creativity. Regardless, I’ll keep doing what I do . . . then again, my livelihood isn’t tied to my creative endeavors.

  8. This sounds remarkably like the short-lived FoundView/TrustImage movement (now found only on the Wayback Machine), where someone advocated certificates of authenticity that photographs hadn’t been deceptively manipulated digitally, and that everything in the picture was “seen at the scene”. A number of nature photographers bought into it for a year or two, but the message was fundamentally divisive and incoherent, and it quietly disappeared over 15 years ago.

    What it had in common with this is that if it had achieved any measure of recognition by the general public, it would have created the implication that anyone who didn’t join in was engaged in deception.

    1. How interesting–thanks for pointing that out. It seems like a very similar situation, with the advent of new technology sparking fears of creative inauthenticity. Thanks also for mentioning the potential negative impact of a certification system, which I didn’t consider.

      I suspect that these certification schemes will also disappear. Authors care a lot about the authenticity issue but while the general public is freaked out about stupid stuff, like AI becoming Skynet, they don’t really care much about the practical applications.

  9. AI is not creative ( go ahead ask it for a plot), it will generate vanilla prose and bland dialogue because its taking the average of its training data.

    If its indistinguishable from existing human content, its because the humans wrote vanilla average prose.

    Humans will have to be more creative!

  10. A conundrum, for sure. I’ve played with ChatGPT (for fun, not for actual writing), and I’ve generated thousands of AI images, some of which I’ve used to adorn short stories on my blog. The images are always identified as such. To be clear, I’m not depriving a graphic artist of work because I wouldn’t hire an artist in the first place (when I needed graphics, I generated them).

    So, while I might use AI image generation for my work, I’m VERY unlikely to ever use ChatGPT for written content creation for the same reason it’s VERY unlikely I would ever collaborate with another author; it’s not in my nature.

    As far as reading AI generated fiction . . . hard to say. I don’t know that I’d want to lock myself into a position this early in the game. Ultimately, there aren’t very many authors I enjoy reading, and I’m disappointed — sometimes deeply — with many books I read (one of the reasons I write is so that I have something to read that I like).

    If AIs created something that struck a chord with me, I’d probably read it, even if advertised as such. Currently, that’s a tall order since AI are schooled on many of the same authors I don’t read. GIGO is likely to be a way of life for AI writing.

    Would I want to know if what I read is generated by a human or an AI?

    Let me say this: I read books written by people I don’t know, and watch movie with actors I don’t personally know. They could all be complete jerks, but their work stands on its own merit. I assume that would also be the case with AI content.

    For that matter, how many books are “ghost-written”? When I read someone’s autobiography, do I automatically assume they are literary prodigies in addition to their original claim to fame? Nope.

    It’s a new world, and we’re still navigating it. It’s to early to speak for billions who have yet to have broad exposure to AI-generated content. One thing with the masses . . . they rarely prove the experts right.

    1. Good job. You read my mind. You wrote everything I am thinking, word for word. And I, being Italian, read your comment thanks to artificial intelligence and responded in Italian, and it translated for me… Therefore, it is useful, very useful, regardless.

      1. Luca, secondo la mia esperienza, i servizi di traduzione raramente traducono in modo accurato. Sono ideali per frasi semplici e affermazioni dirette, ma hanno difficoltà a tradurre idee complesse. Fortunatamente, tendo a scrivere in prosa semplice.

          1. My response to you was a small attempt at levity, and I apologize if it didn’t come across as such.

            Let me be clear and say I appreciate you concurring with my points.

  11. I now include a statement in all of my submission letters that confirms I am NOT an AI and that all of the content was generated by me. That seems sufficient for good faith. I don’t see how a certification from one of these services will achieve anything better. As you say, though, it is early in this evolution, and more may be needed.

    I have to say that I would be reluctant to invest the time and mental energy in reading a work that I knew was partly (or fully) generated by something other than a fellow human mind. I read to understand humanity; I think I need authentically human content for that.

  12. I see the ‘Authenticity’ services as a marketing up sell loop that are targeting authors fears about AI and using them to lure authors into using their other services, be it PR, marketing or design. Any author can make their own badge for nothing. No one needs to pay for a ‘service’ like this. What authors want is for the law to catch up and protect us because these two opportunist cannot! Thanks so much Victoria for this informative article.

  13. I’m new here although I’ve checked your blog for warnings of publishers and agents in the past. I believe readers won’t care whether a book is AI or human written. Only that it’s a good story. And the little I’ve seen with AI and writing. AI tells where a good writer shows. And how can a story be checked without some sort of AI programming? But I’m pretty behind on computer anything. I don’t know how to create a spreadsheet. In the end it’s the story that sells.

    1. I assume you also steal and don’t care that you do so? In the end it’s the person who wrote the story that matters. If you can’t see that, then you’re part of the problem.

      1. Denise, I don’t like deleting comments, so I’m letting yours stand. But it’s completely uncalled for to accuse someone of “stealing” just because they confess to some uncertainty. Alice, please don’t be driven away by a hostile comment. You’re welcome here.

    2. Alice I agree that it’s the story that sells, and as a reader I honestly have no idea who is actually writing some of my favorite romances. Everybody uses a pen name and some are group efforts. I have read some of the more popular books on using AI to help write your novel and it seems like the authors using it spend more time editing and rewriting passages than anybody realizes. So I honestly don’t think certifications or pledges or whatever will make any differences to readers, especially if it means our favorite writers ( or favorite names ) will write more books.

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