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Electronic books, commonly referred to as ebooks, have been around for several years, but have only recently started gaining world-wide interest among readers. These books are relatively easy to produce, do not require paper or elaborate printing facilities, and will not degrade over time. They are especially popular with self-published authors and niche writers whose genres are not commercially viable enough to merit a standard print publication contract, such as poetry and some technical writings. Ebooks make great promotional tools for larger multimedia projects, as well as samples of works in progress.

Marketing an ebook, however, requires some new ways of looking at an age-old problem- how do I reach the people who need this information, and convince them to buy my work? Here are some marketing suggestions that specifically target ebook promotions:

1. In a consumer's eyes, cheaper doesn't always mean better. When compact discs first started replacing vinyl albums, few consumers realized that the actual production cost of a CD was the same as producing a vinyl album. What the manufacturers were promoting was new and better technology, not cheaper and lighter material. The same holds true with e-books. Don't compromise your selling price, but emphasize the superior technical advantages an ebook offers over standard print material. Ultimately, you are promoting the content, not the packaging, so keep your praise for the new medium within reason.

2. Piggybacking your ebook with more mainstream items is a good way to go. In marketing terms, 'Piggybacking' is a strategy whereby you attach one item physically to another item that would naturally complement it. Getting a bar of soap with your new scrub brush or finding a tube of toothpaste with your new toothbrush is piggybacking. With ebooks, consider piggybacking the discs with materials connected with their content. If it's a children's ebook, consider piggybacking a coloring book and crayons, or some posters of the characters. An adult-level ebook might be piggybacked with an instruction manual, or you might strike a deal with a manufacturer who markets an item mentioned in your ebook. If your ebook is about car repair, you might be able to piggyback your ebook with an emergency repair kit or owner's manual.

3. Alternative products may require alternative advertising. Ebooks are not mainstream items, so advertising in mainstream venues may not be as effective as you might hope. Seek out specialty magazines that cater to the same niche your ebook does. Explore online advertising possibilities, like creating your own website or banner advertising. Generate word-of-mouth advertising by setting up a booth at a trade show or flea market. If you have a large selection of ebooks, consider creating a print catalog and using direct mail.

4. If you can, create free samples. If your poetry ebook contains 50 poems, try creating a sampler of 10 poems that best represent the collection's caliber. Become Johnny Appleseed, and spread your samples far and wide. If your ebook is a fictional work, try making a sampler of the first three chapters, creating interest in the characters without revealing too much of the story. Include a message that will allow readers of the sampler to order the complete ebook through whatever means you decide to use. You can provide a post office box, a website URL, a list of stores that carry your ebook, or any other contact information you want. Books sell best when a reader has the opportunity and the means to browse the book first. Samples of your ebook should raise interest in the completed work, not convince the reader that they've read all they need to read.

Mainstream bookstores and similar venues are becoming more open to the idea of commercial ebooks, but until the electronic book market adopts a viable standard and becomes more accessible to a wider audience, ebook marketing will still depend heavily on the author's dedication and effort.