In 2023 AI is evolving quickly, and so are Leanpub’s AI services and our other author services! So, I’m going to update this essay as our vision and our services evolve. (We are Leanpub after all: so just as our books can be updated a click of a button, so can our essays.) This version was last updated on November 11, 2023, to include the BookGPT service with GlobalAuthor and to include the BookGPT and CourseGPT services with GlobalInstructor – both for no additional cost. So, if you’re interested in BookGPT and CourseGPT, it could be that GlobalInstructor is the best service for you. Learn more below…

We now have two more opt-in AI services:

  1. BookGPT: Talk to the GPT for the author of a specific Leanpub book about their book, in any language!
  2. CourseGPT: Talk to the GPT for the author of a specific Leanpub course about their course, in any language!

These GPTs can be public (for the marketing benefit and just as a fun service) or unlisted (as an extra to sell as a link in a premium package for your book). We will pay 80% of the revenue we earn from them from OpenAI.

About GPTs

We’re launching two services today. Note that I deliberately said “services” not “features”.

These are opt-in concierge services which our authors can buy, and which create products for them. But although these products are based on your Leanpub books or courses, they don’t run on Leanpub.

Instead, if you buy these services, what we will do is create GPTs for you based on your Leanpub books or courses. These GPTs run on OpenAI’s new GPTs environment. (GPTs are described by OpenAI as “a new way for anyone to create a tailored version of ChatGPT to be more helpful in their daily life, at specific tasks, at work, or at home.” If you haven’t heard about GPTs before, I’d recommend reading OpenAI’s article here and watching the opening keynote from their recent DevDay.)

For example, yesterday (Thursday, 2023-11-09), I created my first GPT. Since this was my “hello world” effort, I thought that naturally it should be a GPT of me, giving publishing advice to authors. Thankfully I’d already written Lean Publishing, which is a Leanpub book of my thoughts about publishing. So, in very little time, I’d created my GPT, customized how I wanted it to respond, and uploaded my Leanpub PDF of my Lean Publishing book as its material to work from.

Speaking for myself, I can say that with my book and my customizations, my GPT does a really good job of giving the type of publishing advice I would give!

Actually, in one important way, it does a much better job.

Yesterday I was chatting with my GPT in a Zoom call with my team (we’re based in Victoria, Canada, but we work from home), and one the first things that one of my team members did was open the URL to my GPT and talk to my GPT in Spanish. And he got publishing advice from my GPT. In Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish.

But now I have a GPT which can give credible publishing advice of the type that I would give, in either English or in one of many languages that I don’t speak, based on a book I wrote in English and on the way I told my GPT to interact with users.

Use Cases for GPTs

Now, when you think about the kinds of books and courses which make up the majority of Leanpub, the applicability here is obvious.

Here are some GPTs which could help Leanpub readers:

  • a GPT which can help a reader understand the code in a computer programming book on Leanpub
  • a GPT which can help a reader understand a textbook on Leanpub, especially in subjects like math and statistics
  • a GPT which is a teaching assistant for a Leanpub course, explaining the material and helping with questions
  • a GPT which gives advice about best practices in agile or project management, based on the opinions of the author as expressed in one of their Leanpub books

BookGPT and CourseGPT

Thinking about all the use cases, we realized there were two products here:

  1. BookGPT: Talk to the GPT for the author of a specific Leanpub book in any language! Ask comprehension questions about material like code or math, using the material in the book as the foundation and the GPT’s vast understanding of the world which it starts with. The types of books that this GPT could help with include computer programming books and math and statistics textbooks, obviously. However, it’s much more general than that: any book with interesting concepts is suitable for the BookGPT service, since the GPT can discuss ideas and give advice as easily as it can explain how code works or how some formula should be used. So books about advanced topics like software architecture, software development methodology, agile, project management, etc. are all excellent choices for BookGPT. My Lean Publishing book has no code in it, but my GPT still has stuff to talk about!
  2. CourseGPT: Talk to the GPT for the author of a specific Leanpub course in any language! CourseGPT is a GPT teaching assistant for a Leanpub course! Get help learning the material in the lessons, and even get help doing the questions in the exercises. Obviously there’s the potential that the learner would just talk to the GPT to get its help doing the quizzes, but Leanpub quizzes are not things which are given in a supervised environment anyway. (You can refer to the PDF of the course material when you’re doing a quiz, etc.)

It goes without saying, but we obviously don’t build any GPTs for an author unless they purchase the service for us to do so: your work is your work, not ours.

All of these are services which our authors can purchase, with unpaid royalties or with money. Purchasing one of these services results in us creating a GPT which runs on OpenAI’s new GPTs environment. So, they currently require that the reader also has a ChatGPT+ subscription to be able to interact with them.

To be clear: Leanpub authors are totally free to make their own GPTs based on their Leanpub books and courses. We strongly encourage it! Again, you own your work, not us. We’re just offering these concierge services since many of you will be too busy to make your own GPTs, and since my expectation is that as we make more and more of them, we will get really good at it.

OpenAI lets GPTs have three access settings: (1) only by yourself, (2) by anyone with a link (unlisted), or (3) public. Obviously the first option is not applicable here. But the other two choices both have legitimate use cases here. So, it’s up to you to choose the visibility of your GPT.

Selling Access to Unlisted GPTs in Premium Packages

All GPTs we create start as Unlisted. This way, you can ensure you’re happy with the GPT we created before deciding whether we should make it public.

Leaving your GPT unlisted is the revenue-focused approach. Anyone with a ChatGPT+ subscription who has the link can talk to it. The way that you provide this link is via the mechanism of Extras and Packages. This is a bit cumbersome, so we will do it for you. That way, if you want it, it’s there.

We will start by creating an Extra which is a one-page PDF containing the link information for your GPT as well as instructions for the reader. We will then create a Package for your book which includes this Extra, and set its minimum price higher than the price of your book. We will not actually publish this Package, of course.

You can edit all the pricing, of course, but we’ll just do what we think makes sense for your book. Then, if you want to go with this approach, you just have to click a button to publish the Package containing the Extra with the link to your GPT.

Our hope is that books with free minimum prices choose this option, and earn thousands (or tens or hundreds of thousands!) of dollars selling access to these premium packages with the GPT included.

Now, if you’re selling links to unlisted GPTs, you presumably won’t earn as much revenue from an OpenAI revenue share, since your GPT will presumably have fewer users. But earning Leanpub royalties has a much more straightforward royalty calculation!

Making Public GPTs for Marketing Benefit

Making your GPT Public is the marketing-focused approach. Anyone with a ChatGPT+ subscription can talk to it, and hopefully this raises the profile of your book, your course or of you in general. An author who wrote multiple books and created multiple courses would presumably want a GPT for each book and course. Now, this won’t just magically happen, of course – even when OpenAI launches the GPT version of the App Store. You’ll want to promote your GPT(s) in your social channels, on your blog or newsletter, in your books, etc.

The monetization of your GPT would primarily be the indirect marketing benefit leading to increased book sales, but the probability of earning money via OpenAI’s revenue share could exist as well (subject to how they run that program and what information we get). More on that below.

Planned 80% Revenue Share

If you watched the OpenAI keynote, you’ll know that OpenAI is planning a revenue share with GPTs. Presumably GPT creators will get some cut of the ChatGPT+ subscription revenue. Now, since this isn’t live yet, we have no idea what it will be, and whether there will be granularity provided to GPT creators about which GPT earned which money.

So, what we will say is the following: if OpenAI does do their planned revenue share, and if they provide enough information that we can determine which GPT that we created earned which revenue, we will share 80% of that revenue with the author(s). We will split the 80% author revenue on the same revenue split as is active between coauthors at the time that we received the payment from OpenAI.

Some authors may make a meaningful amount of money here, but intuitively I think the real monetization story for almost all authors is more direct: leave the GPT unlisted and sell access to it as part of a premium package, as discussed above.

All Ebook Formats Welcome

Our GPTs services work with books written in any writing mode, including upload. We don’t care whether your book is in Leanpub Flavoured Markdown or Markua, or whether you uploaded a PDF or an EPUB file. Anything goes!


First and foremost, this is a concierge service. You can make your own GPTs, and it’s really easy to do.

You should only pay us to make GPTs for you if you don’t want to take the time. If you wake up two weeks from now and you haven’t made your own GPT yet, you may just want to click a button to have us do it for you!

The crucial thing in terms of our pricing is that you want to pay us to take our time and do a good job, both in the initial creation of the GPT and in any ongoing maintenance. For example, an in-progress book or course should have its GPT repeatedly uploaded. So, for an in-progress book or course, we will update your GPT quarterly until it is completed or for four years, whichever comes first.

However, we also want a lot of GPTs created, especially the unlisted ones which are sold as extras, since the increased revenue will obviously benefit us as well. So, we want to price these high enough that we take our time to do things right, but not so high as to be inaccesible.

So, the pricing is as follows:

  1. BookGPT: $169 for a completed book; $349 for an in-progress book. An in-progress book will be updated quarterly for the next 4 years or until it is completed, whichever comes first.
  2. CourseGPT: $349 for a completed course; $549 for an in-progress course. An in-progress course will be updated quarterly for the next 4 years or until it is completed, whichever comes first.

Other Progress

Two other things that OpenAI announced at DevDay were GPT-4-Turbo (in beta) and Threads. Both of these are very promising in terms of our making incremental improvements to our existing AI services. In fact, even with GPT-4-Turbo being in beta, we’ve seen quality improvements in TranslateAI output when testing it compared to the current production GPT-4. So, we are immediately converting our AI services to using the GPT-4-Turbo beta, starting with TranslateAI. In fact, we just finished the first TranslateAI book which was translated with GPT-4-Turbo earlier today! More on this in the next newsletter!

Thanks to our Early Adopters!

Thanks again to all our authors for supporting us over the years, and an especially huge thanks to those brave authors who are early adopters of our AI Services!

Peter Armstrong

November 10, 2023