Cindy Childress: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Engage in the conversation. Educate your team to be good stewards of AI tools. Empower your customers or clients to use AI with discernment. This preserves your authority in your field and maintains your relevance to the latest conversations which include AI whether we wish it so or not.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Childress.

Cindy Childress, Ph.D. is an 11x best-selling, 10x award-winning ghostwriter known as The Expert’s Ghostwriter®, specializing in nonfiction books by entrepreneurs that are life-changing and transformative. She’s the creator of The Authority Ecosystem and has coached over 700 students through her signature Bestselling Book Blueprint Challenge.

Her business, Childress Business Communication, is a gold award winner with the American Business Awards and International Business Awards. She has been interviewed by U.S. News & World Report, Thrive Global, and more. She is based in Houston, TX and is available for speaking opportunities across the US, global and virtual summits, podcasts, and interviews.

In her spare time, she fosters rescue kittens and frequents art events as an art collector.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I have a Ph.D. in English with a creative writing dissertation from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. However, when I graduated with that degree, my then boyfriend and now husband of 16 years had the opportunity to live and work in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I accompanied him, and we spent 7 years in Malaysia and Indonesia, during which time I was President of the American Association of Malaysia and the Balikpapan International Women’s Association, so I learned about corporate sponsorships, producing large events, and fostering community. 

When we returned to the U.S., my interests had shifted away from teaching literature. Instead of pursing an academic career, entered the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and later a gym manager and even created and led an in-house call center for a nationwide gym. I became more and more interested in the business side of that company and ultimately opened my business, Childress Business Communication. At first I offered copywriting, content writing, and ghostwriting, and I loved the latter the most, so I focused on ghostwriting nonfiction books. I get to use my creative writing and business skills every day to build my business and help my clients write successful books that make money and an impact. 

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I recently ghostwrote a book for the President of a national nonprofit who started out not wanting to write a book. He was reluctant to tell his story because he saw his contribution to the organization more about his business skills than his personal story. Their marketing team won out, and I was hired to work with the client on a memoir. 

Throughout the writing process, he was impressed that I kept marketing front-of-mind and was mindful of how different kinds of readers could respond. We also kept a running list of my ideas for marketing and promoting the book and building a bigger platform with it. Yet, along the way, he would ask, “would anyone want to read this?” “Is my story any good?” I would say, “Yes. And we’re going to keep writing and editing until we get there.”

Today, he has his answer. People are leaving him five-star reviews and complimenting a lot of the story elements we worked so hard to refine and convey in just the right way. The book also proved to be an even better link with donors than he’d hoped. He’s also found a new avenue for speaking to different kinds of groups and broadening the coalition around the nonprofit’s cause. What makes my company different is my ability to hold the quality of the book’s writing and the book’s marketing and larger impact in focus from the beginning of a project until completion.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each? 

Irrational Belief

I once asked my first client who wrote a book with me and later gave a talk of the same title on a TEDX stage why he initially wanted to work with me. He was a commercial real estate investor who hired me after a 7-minute conversation. “Because of your belief. You believed in my book and my ability to write it. And that never wavered the entire time we worked together.” To the outside observer, it may seem that my belief in a project during its early stages is irrational, but I know the path to success isn’t paved with second-guessing and doubts. It’s paved with certainty and focus, and sometimes irrational belief is necessary so that we do the work confidently, and the proof is in the “pudding,” or in this case, the book’s positive reception.


A book coaching client of mine was once struggling because in her field, the information is fixed (no new research). So, how could she write about the same things in a fresh way? One day, I noticed a metaphor she made, and I asked her if she could envision that metaphor stretching across the entire framework? Turs out that she could. Today her book has won 4 book awards, and although the information isn’t new, the way she describes it is fresh and crisp.


When I graduated from Western Kentucky University and applied to M.A. programs, my professor, Elizabeth Oakes, wrote in her recommendation, “Cindy doesn’t accept simple solutions. She always digs deeper.”

Occasionally, I’ll be working on a book, and the content veers into a new direction. The story or information we set out to present doesn’t add up in the ghostwriting interviews. Instead of forcing a square peg into a round hole, I become curious. If this book’s meaning or theme is something different, then what might it be? Allowing the writing to unfold and reveal the deeper story is so rewarding. Sometimes the author has an epiphany about relationships or events in their life or gains a richer understanding of their topic and its applications.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line? 

Artificial Intelligence has affected the book industry differently from other writing professions like copywriting. When AI was first introduced, my copywriting friends buzzed about its promises to make their work easier and threats to make them extinct. When I created a ChatGPT account in November of 2022, I intended to paste a book chapter into it and see how AI summarized the chapter. But I paused and wondered, “What happens with writing I put into ChatGPT?” I read the fine print and realized loading my clients’ works into that platform would break my confidentiality and Intellectual Property guarantees. That’s because AI uses new inputs for learning. I could’ve accidentally leaked my clients’ proprietary ideas. Today, you can find some paid AI platforms that promise not to teach itself with your material except for work it does for you. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

The Author’s Guild of America currently has a lawsuit against ChatGPT for using thousands of copywritten books to train the AI without permission or compensation. The defense’s argument is that they’re in the clear under the copyright “fair use” clause. But even if the courts agree, there’s still the issue that pieces of those texts appear in AI outputs without attribution, which is plagiarism. The counterargument is that content created by AI, like an answer to a question, can’t be copywritten. So it won’t “belong” to the person who might publish it as their own. Well, good luck enforcing that. 

Authors are finding that fake books are published under their names because people are asking AI to write a book that sounds like so-in-so or even providing text from an author and then publishing a paraphrase from AI. Fake books are such a problem on Amazon that they’ve limited authors to upload no more than 3 books a day. Adobe Stock Photo has a new filter that excludes AI-Generated images (and another filter that only shows those images), and I expect online book sellers will follow suit. Currently, Amazon is asking authors to voluntarily check whether their book is AI-Generated, AI-Assisted, or Original. The first and third are fairly obvious, and A-Assisted means you used an AI tool for editing or brainstorming, etc. but actually wrote the content yourself.

Many book sellers have pledged not to sell AI-Generated books, such as and They’re concerned about both plagiarism and quality. That’s why Penguin Random House also has a policy against AI-Generated writing. I’m curious what regulations will shape how we use AI as more and more AI-Generated plagiarism is found and litigated.

Lest I only share the doom and gloom, Harper Collins worked on (and I think launched) a chatbot on Facebook that makes book recommendations, and some book publishers are using AI to generate marketing materials to revive interest in their back catalogue books. So there are ways in which AI is helping readers find books and books find readers.

The only affect AI has had on my business is that I stopped selling speed. I was always taught in marketing to sell time, as in how to do something faster or in less time, but in the face of AI, that feels disingenuous. While original writing may not be “faster” than AI-Generated writing, speed was never my audience’s first concern. I’ve also had to educate my audience about plagiarism risks and vulnerability of material they input when it comes to AI.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

Apps like Claude, Simplified and Junia (and many more), which traffic in long form content, unfortunately make book counterfeiting more possible. For example, George R. Martin found that someone published an AI-Generated final book of Game of Thrones, which was published in his name, but with profits going to the bogus account. Those AI platforms also allow for wholesale stealing of ideas, such as pasting in someone’s book or a talk transcript and asking for a paraphrase or outline. Marketing content mills are taking that output and running with it creating blogs, speeches, and even books. This floods the marketplace of ideas with low quality “me too” content completely lacking in originality and makes the internet an even more cacophonous space. I see a chilling lack of respect for authors, experts, and knowledge, itself. 

When people reply on AI platforms to answer questions for them instead of doing their own research, they eliminate the middle men — experts and the media. In doing so, there’s a complete disconnect between the information and its origin. While you can prompt AI to show its sources, few think to do so. The Google search results game has recently changed as well, thanks to AI. It’s increasingly more possible to get a brief answer to a search without clicking through to any sources. From the perspective of an expert, why even publish your ideas if they’re going to be available completely separate from your authority platform? 

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

I saw the intellectual property problem minutes after creating my ChatGPT account in November of 2022. Until the following September, I largely stayed silent and watched the lawsuits being brought against AI unfold. I wanted to see how things played out in the legal system before weighing in, so as not to have an opinion that could become irrelevant in light of a court ruling. I broke that silence in October of 2023 after I attended an event that included a speaker who shared how his marketing agency uses AI. He illuminated just how widespread it is that people are creating “derivative” work and publishing it on a massive scale. I asked him point-blank what about intellectual property rights, and he shared these two counterpoints: 1) everyone is doing it, so it doesn’t matter and 2) we’re taking your ideas, but you get to take ideas from others, too. I realized if I didn’t start speaking out, I might never get the chance to make a case for experts, authority, and intellectual property. 

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

I take issue that AI inherently “enhances,” but in an unavoidable AI future (and present), skills of fact checking and vetting peer-reviewed sources before publishing information we find online will be more important than ever. We need these skills to avoid accidentally plagiarizing material, as well as repeating falsities or hallucinations. For example, a client of mine wanted to include a quote from a famous leader that he couldn’t quite recall in his book. He asked ChatGPT and got a result that seemed plausible. I wanted to cite which speech the quote was from and discovered that AI had given us two sentences spliced together from speeches given years apart. Bottom line, if you’re using AI, remember its job is to give you the statistically probable and most likely output. You must do the thinking and discerning.

At the same time, there are ways AI can potentially assist a ghostwriter. Using AI-Assistance for editing with tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid are now ubiquitous. But avoid using the AI-Generated writing features on those platforms unless you inform your client you’re including AI-Generated writing in their book and get their blessing. Otherwise, you potentially could be violating a copyright clause to only use their original material as agreed to in your contract. 

There are more novel ways we might use AI as well. For instance, Vox Scripts, is a tool that searches YouTube for clips. If you can search your recorded client interviews this way, you may quickly find something you want to hear again instead of rewatching and rewinding to try and find a single quotation. I don’t rely on transcripts to produce writing because we write so differently than we speak, but it’s nice that with no real effort we can have an AI-generated transcript that we might refer to in the course of writing. Again, I would take precautions that your scripts aren’t being used to train AI without the client’s express permission. 

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

Navigating new search engine algorithms on Google requires new strategies, both for research and for positioning your content to be found. And being vigilant about where information comes from and ensuring its authenticity is essential to avoid plagiarism or publishing falsehoods. We also don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so we need to pursue AI-Assistance where it’s helpful. So there’s a balancing act between empowering editors and writers to use AI and cautioning them to use those tools judiciously.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

Ethical applications of AI are limited to AI-Assistance, in which you engage with AI for ideas and or to suggest changes in your writing. There are no guardrails against bad actors using AI platforms to infringe on copyrights. Chat GPT has agreed to create a kind of fingerprint on its outputs so they will be flagged as AI-Generated writings, where such filters might flag them. There are talks of authors being able to opt out of having their writing enter the AI machine. You can add a widget to some websites to prevent AI from scraping your data. These are positive moves, but they don’t address the root problem of AI platforms profiting from machine learning based on stolen information. 

As I say in my “Authenticity in the Age of AI” speech, high-quality ideas and original writing will become even more valuable when juxtaposed against AI-Generated material. We already see renewed interest in visiting reputable websites for information and following specific, trusted experts. In a highly digital world, humans don’t crave more separation. We crave more human interaction. This is why although some early polls found that people would trust medical advice from AI, more recent polls in late 2023 and early 2024 see those numbers falling, and the majority wouldn’t trust medical advice from AI. The more people try out these platforms for themselves and become aware of the limitations, the savvier we’ll be as content consumers. 

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

1 . Don’t panic. On its own, AI is a benign tool. Whether it’s used for good or ill depends on what we do with it.

2 . Think critically. Beyond the hype over its ability to do xyz, where are its limits? Are there some functions that can benefit your workflow? Are there other functions that don’t deliver as promised? Be the expert on AI’s uses and limitations in your sector.

3 . Engage in the conversation. Educate your team to be good stewards of AI tools. Empower your customers or clients to use AI with discernment. This preserves your authority in your field and maintains your relevance to the latest conversations which include AI whether we wish it so or not.

4 . Remain flexibly detached. Most conversations about AI that acknowledge its limitations do so with the caveat, “for now… until it does complete task xyz as well or better than a human.” Perhaps. And perhaps not. That future hasn’t arrived and isn’t inevitable, although it is a probability. 

5 . Keep creating. In a fast food writing environment, we must be the slow food alternative. For the short-term, that feels like a losing proposition, but books and writing have always been a long game. Let the short term play out. 

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

The most common misconception in my industry and across the global conversations about AI is that it’s a benevolent, good technology. People seem unwilling to hear any possible downside as anything other than a passing flaw that will be fixed (and that can be exploited in the meantime). Fixed when? By whom? I ask what our responsibility is in light of the technology’s current state.

They also think just because AI is faster, it’s better. I have yet to see AI produce anything I couldn’t do better and faster than if I worked from an AI output. Now, I understand everyone isn’t a writing pro, just like I’m not a math whiz and struggle with numbers. But I promise what you write yourself, even if it takes longer, will be of more value to readers because you’re sharing what you think from your perspective and creating an authentic connection with them in the engagement of ideas. 

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life? 

This life lesson comes from Brené Brown on the topic of authenticity in Dare to Lead. She writes: “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make everyday. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” My first concern with AI-Generated writing was that it’s “inauthentic” by design. As a derivative copy from an original, it loses its integrity, and the more this copying occurs over time, the more pixelated the copies become — and the further from truth and transparency. I realized if I wanted to be authentic in this conversation, I had to share my truth and be vulnerable, just as Brown teaches. 

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process? 

I struggle to stay positive and not let world events influence my attitude on a day-to-day basis. As an entrepreneur, I can’t wait for the world to settle down so I can move forward. I have to be bold in the face of an imperfect environment and encourage my clients and students to do the same. However, we have to be aware of current events and marketplace trends, inflation, etc. I struggle to walk the line between informed citizen and business person. I don’t want to be seen as cold or uncaring (in our age of cancel culture), and I also know if I only want to sell in the most opportune moment, I could be waiting forever. Conducting launches and even writing content during wars and natural disasters has taught me a lot about who we must be to rise above elements out of our control and focus on what we can control without being silenced or losing our voice, or having it co-opted for someone else’s agenda. 

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire a movement of writing and sharing your writing and ideas with others. I see this through the lens of my “Authority Ecosystem” framework. Authority and expertise only matter outside of ourselves and our individual results when we share them in ways that impact and empower others. If more of our brightest, best minds, and giving hearts would share their authentic ideas and stories, the world would be profoundly uplifted.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Visit my website, and take my FREE Discover Your #1 Bestselling Author Personality Quiz to unlock your writing superpowers and write your book your way.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.