By Caralee Adams, freelance writer.
Jason C. McDonald wrote the first draft of his latest mystery using a manual typewriter.
“It forces you to think about the flow of writing in a different way than when you can’t easily erase something,” says the author and owner of AJ Charleson Publishing LLC. “It can take a story in a very unexpected — and great — direction.”
McDonald may be old school in his approach to crafting a novel, but he is innovative in how he is trying to connect with readers.
The Idaho writer has long been a fan of the Internet Archive and its vast amount of newspapers, magazines, and recordings for research. So when it came to getting exposure for his books, McDonald wanted to give back to the collection.
McDonald recently contributed three copies of books published by his small company that he formed in 2018 to the Internet Archive. A digital version of his books, Finding Scrooge and Noah Clue, P.I., along with a book, Love’s Refining Fire, by Anne McDonald, Jason’s mother, are now available through Controlled Digital Lending. He shared the news of the free digital availability of his titles on Twitter and in a banner on the company website.
“I really support libraries and Internet Archive’s lending program is basically an international library. It spans borders,” says McDonald. “The whole purpose is to get these resources into the hands of people that need them in a way that is controlled — and it’s free.”
McDonald is a computer programmer by day and author who is chipping away on four manuscripts now on nights and weekends. He’s just getting started with his independent publishing company and would like to expand. Yet, it’s a struggle to get the word out about his print books. McDonald lists his titles in buyers’ catalogues, promotes them at book signings and relies on word of mouth marketing.
“Especially here in COVID era, we aren’t going to bookstores. People want to be able to read part of a book first to get an idea of what it’s like,” says McDonald. “Buying a print-only book sight unseen is an odd idea to some people.”
The Archive also provides readers of its digitized online books a chance to easily purchase a copy through Better World Books, an affordable alternative to Amazon and an avenue to help amplify sales for less well-known authors. Having his works circulating digitally through the Internet Archive will give the public a chance to read part — or all — of his books and then make an informed decision about whether they want to buy it.
“It’s the same logic as with a library. It increases the visibility of a book,” McDonald says of CDL. “I think in the end, it drives sales because you are finding readers you wouldn’t normally have. Those readers aren’t getting a copy that they keep forever — it’s a copy that’s going to lead them to want to own it.”