Feb 25, 2023, 8:00am EST

ChatGPT get-rich-quick schemes are coming for magazines, Amazon, and YouTube

A cover of Clarkesworld depicting a mysterious man with a robotic mask covering his eyes.
Clarkesworld/Douglas P. Lobo

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The News

One morning earlier this week, Neil Clarke, the editor of a prominent U.S.-based fantasy and science fiction magazine called Clarkesworld, was wading through the latest story submissions from authors hoping to be published. He determined that at least 50 submissions that day alone had been lazily drafted by artificial intelligence.

Of the 1,200 global submissions that Clarke received in the first 20 days of February, he deemed 500 of them to be AI-generated.

“It was picking up at a daily rate,” Clarke told Semafor. He was forced to close submissions because of the crush of ChatGPT-created content.

Clarke identified the likely culprit: Followers of online get-rich-quick scammers trying to make a quick buck, in the off-chance their AI-generated work gets published.

Its the latest evolution of internet side-hustle culture: Creators posing as business moguls are encouraging followers to use ChatGPT to earn money by churning out AI-generated content. The impact of these schemes is also being felt in other industries, including publishing, e-commerce, and video platforms like YouTube.

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Know More

Owing to his magazine’s popularity, Clark told Semafor that scammers had included it on their lists of publications to which people could submit content they didn’t write. If those submissions get published, the “authors” get paid. (Clarkesworld pays 12 cents per word.)

“You get one person who will put out a TikTok or YouTube or blog post. … ‘Earn quick penny with ChatGPT,’” he said.

Other science-fiction magazines, airline magazines, as well as prestigious outlets like The New Yorker, are also on these lists, according to Clarke.

Clarke declined to provide the tell-tale signs he looks for to detect whether something is written by ChatGPT — he doesn’t want to give away his methods to the scammers.

But he said it was obvious that there’s “absolutely no effort put into masking” the AI submissions.


“They cut, they paste, they send,” he said. “These are not good. These are not even remotely good.”

Clarke said that he tried out AI-detection software, but that it was “absolutely terrible” and produced several false positives and negatives.

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The View From YouTube

The side-hustle phenomenon is perhaps most visible on YouTube, where there are over 4,000 videos with both “ChatGPT and “money” in the title. Many have dramatic thumbnails and titles, like: “How I made $21,710 in 7 Days!” or “Make $1 Million using ChatGPT.”

The videos offer suggestions for using ChatGPT to craft monetized blog posts, participate in affiliate marketing schemes, and write scripts for, well, YouTube videos. Many of the AI-specific videos have hundreds of thousands of views, and some have over a million.

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The View From Amazon

ChatGPT money-making schemes have also hit the book publishing world, especially children’s books.


There are already over 200 e-books in the Kindle store that list ChatGPT as an author or co-author, and the number is growing every day, Reuters reported this week.

ChatGPT buffs on YouTube say you can use the chatbot to come up with a title and story, and turn to AI art generators like Midjourney to create graphics, before publishing it on Amazon’s Kindle store.

Like other get-rich-quick schemes, the videos likely oversimplify the process and list exaggerated numbers for how much the average person is likely to make. The market has started to become saturated, no doubt in part as more people are learning how to do it.

“There needs to be transparency from the authors and the platforms about how these books are created, or you’re going to end up with a lot of low-quality books,” Mary Rasenberger, executive director of writers’ group the Authors Guild, told Reuters.

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Want to pass along a tip or feedback? Write to J.D. at jcapelouto@semafor.com.