Designing the PDF Sampler

    April 26, 2002

After recently signing a six ebook deal with Atlantic Bridge Publishing (, I quickly realized promotion would be a whole different ball game. I was used to promoting my Lance Howard print westerns to certain areas, and, indeed, I would be able to adapt a number of techniques to ebooks: bookmarks, promocards, postcards, etc. Having a bit of experience with ebooks previously, however, I soon realized I would need a somewhat different mindset for the novels, which spanned the range from horror to ripper/western and YA series horror. Many avenues used for print wouldn’t work as well and would have to be modified, with many new ideas instituted.

The first of these new ides was the PDF Sampler. After a little thought, I decided why not take a print technique I’d used, that of printing out a number of pages and binding them together with a color copy of the cover as a give away, and transpose it for online promotion.

To make your PDF Sampler, you will need either your word processor or Powerpoint, or some program that allows you to use text and graphics together. The sampler will be nothing too complicated or fancy so MS Word will do, if you are comfortable using that.

The Sampler should be short, to the point and snappy enough to attract attention to your new ebook release. My short story horror anthology DARK HARBORS had what I considered the most eye-catching cover, so I chose that book. I used the cover for the first page.(In Word use insert picture from file) On the second page I wanted a teaser, something short and mysterious to go along with the tone of the book, something that would encourage a reader to keep going. I came up with the phrase: “Where the sins of the past are never buried…” and gave it a page of its own. On the next page I listed the publisher url, then on the next the title and author.

The meat of the Sampler came next. I used a excerpt from one of the stories in the book, just a short few- page passage to whet the appetite of potential horror readers. By that point, I was hoping the reader would be hooked, but for good measure added a page of review excerpts and a listing of the other five books I had available. I capped it off with another placement of the ordering url and a brief author bio, then hit the PDF button. (If your don’t have the adobe software, Adobe offers five free conversions on their site:

I would suggest trying to keep the file as small as possible, so you can send it a number of places and not ask too much of the receiver’s time for downloading. Big files can be intimidating, especially on machines using lower BPS modems. Once finished, offer your Sampler free to anyone interested. Uploaded it to your webpage, and offer it in press releases.

Anyone interested in taking a peak at mine and using it as a blueprint can download it straight from my homepage in the ebook section (

Howard Hopkins is the author of six horror and western
ebooks from Atlantic Bridge Publishing
( under his own name
and more than twenty print westerns under
the penname Lance Howard.
His novels can be purchased at, and and he lives in Maine.