Writing a book is hard. Getting it published is easy. Barnes and Noble has unveiled the PubIt! program, an online application that will take your short story about frogs or your epic novel about big frogs and publish it as an e-book for the entire world to read. You can be a frog writer in a matter of minutes! Don’t like frogs? You can write about zebras, too, or magic wind, or even a murder mystery set inside a frog zoo! The possibilities are endless.
SparkNotes asked me to test drive the PubIt! program, so I needed to come up with the world’s most amazing tale. After starting and stopping about half a dozen story ideas, I remembered a familiar piece of advice: Write what you know. So I settled on a story about a secret underground lair beneath the forests of New Jersey. “It’s an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that will leave you breathless and sweaty,” said some famous dude who is real and not made up.
Using PubIt! is easy, as long as you have a computer. If you don’t have a computer, and are somehow reading this via your dental fillings and a tinfoil hat, you won’t be able to use PubIt! (However, you’re fascinating, so at least you have that going for you.) But you probably are on a computer right now, so this shouldn’t be an issue. A credit card is also required. But don't worry. The service is free.
First, you need to write a book. It can be about anything. But don’t plagiarize, because then you will die a slow painful death. If you need help coming up with a plot, here are a few book ideas that you can use:
1. A spider that has no friends.
2. A spider that has many friends.
3. A man falls in love with a girl, and then they hug and kiss…on an aircraft carrier…in space.
4. Two girls named Sarah and Abby find an underground lair.
6. A fish that isn’t a fish at all.
7. Something about time travel and evil mice.
8. A woman can’t dance, but then she can, and then she wins something…in space.
9. Mermaid Olympics.
10. Two guys named Jeff and Steve.
After choosing the idea, you simply write a book. Don’t get caught up with writing the perfect book. Instead, sit in front of your computer and type away. You can always edit it later. Once you get into the groove of writing, time will melt away and you’ll have a finished piece ready before you know it.
Then it’s time to edit. I’m a highly paid professional, but I make mistakes all the time. I use “their” when I mean “there.” I use “it’s” when I should use “intestines,” and I will confuse verb tenses, or is it verb tensed? Proofread your copy a few times. One editing trick is to read the work backwards. This way, you won’t be caught up in the story, and instead will only look at the words and punctuation. Another trick is to make your mom do it.
Once you’re happy with the book, and have made all necessary edits, head over to PubIt! and sign up. It’s free. It’s fast. Intestines easy. Answer a few questions. Let them know how you want to get paid (if people download your book, you get part of the money!). And agree to their terms and conditions. With your account set up, you’re ready to upload your masterpiece with the click of a button.
Then comes the fun part. You can make your own cover, write an author bio, and set the price for your story. You can charge anywhere between 99 cents and $199 for your book, and depending on the price, you'll earn between 40% and 65% of the list price. Not bad, considering even big time authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling must fork over a percentage of each book sold to their publisher, agent, manager, and bodyguards. You can then preview your book. Once everything looks good, click the publish button and let the magic happen. It can take 24 hours to process your book, so bring a snack.
Now you can sell it to friends, family, and strangers and become an overnight literary success. Just don’t forget us when you’re famous. Also, don’t forget that if a bug bite has a ring around it, it might be Lyme disease and you should see a doctor.