<![CDATA[SKYE MACKINNON - News]]>Sun, 20 Sep 2020 17:46:39 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[Cover reveal: Song of Souls]]>Thu, 10 Sep 2020 19:00:00 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/cover-reveal-song-of-souls
A few months ago, I randomly wrote a few paragraphs about a vampire pandemic which involved a shortage of toilet paper (guess what inspired me) and sent it to my friend Liza Street. She liked it and wrote a few more paragraphs. Back and forth we went until we suddenly had a full novel. We kept this secret because neither of us wanted to set a deadline - this was just our fun little project. Until now.

I present to you Song of Blood, a post-apocalyptic reverse harem full of vampires, werewolves, fae and sirens. It's set in London and Liza (who's American) had a lot of fun impressing me with her (mostly correct) British slang. The Queen's Knickers is probably my favourite expression she managed to sneak in there…
While Liza expanded her British swearword vocabulary, I added some German mythology centering around the Lorelei, a siren who used to terrorise sailors on the river Rhine. I've always wanted to write about her and finally had the chance with this series.

Anyway, the book releases on the 10th October and you can pre-order it already. And if you want to find out more about Liza, take a look at her website - trust me, her books are amazing and it's been an honour to write with her.
Pre-order Song of Blood
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<![CDATA[A Makeover for Vikings]]>Thu, 10 Sep 2020 11:36:43 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/a-makeover-for-vikings
Sometimes I like to give my older books a new look - whether that's a new cover or a new title. In this case, it's both!
I'd planned for a while to give Norsemen Academy a makeover and now finally had time for it. Say hello to Taking Her Vikings - same content, new look. Still the same sexy Vikings, but now there's one on the cover too!


For now, I'm leaving the paperback the same so if you want one with the old cover, order it now. I'll upload the new paperback in a couple of weeks.
There were three men in my mind. One in the past, two in the present. How was a girl supposed to think like that?
Lainie never expected to be admitted to the prestigious Time Travel Academy.
She never expected to study runes, ancient languages and meet real life Vikings.
And she certainly didn't expect to fall for her teacher... and a Viking... and a mysterious archivist.
When a forbidden jump in time goes wrong, Lainie will have to draw on everything she's learned to make her way back into the present - and into the arms of her men.
A full-length steamy reverse harem full of action, intrigue and hot Vikings, set in both past and present. Includes resources to learn basic runes and Old Norse!
Take Your Viking
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<![CDATA[More than 200 free romance books]]>Thu, 10 Sep 2020 09:00:00 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/more-than-200-free-romance-books
Are you a voracious romance reader? Today, for ONE DAY ONLY, stuff your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple Books or Google Play ebook reader with 200+ FREE ROMANCE READS!

Get the books at your preferred ebook retailer, for FREE, no strings attached. This is just a helpful collection of free-for-a-limited-time romance novels!

Included in this amazing collection of free books are my books Meow (Catnip Assassins #1) and Studying Her Vikings (Norsemen Academy #1).
Get your free books
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<![CDATA[Free book: Meow]]>Mon, 07 Sep 2020 16:27:49 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/free-book-meow
Meow is free this week for the first time ever!

A cat shifter assassin, lots of dead bodies and a slight addiction to catnip... plus some potential mates, secrets from the past and more kittens than you can count.

Start the Catnip Assassins series today!

The final book will release next month, so it's the purrfect timing to begin and read them all in one go ;)
Get your free book
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<![CDATA[Is it possible to work only four hours a day?]]>Sun, 23 Aug 2020 16:54:18 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/is-it-possible-to-work-only-four-hours-a-day
Two years ago, I quit my job and became a full-time author. With no other income than my books, I’ve been working crazy hours ever since to realise my dreams. I make a good living and have built enough savings to get me through emergencies or bad months, but there’s always the worry that it’s not enough. And so I work. A lot. Every day, all day. Even when I still had my job, I’d use every lunch break, evening and of course the weekend to write and work on my author career.

Hobbies? Gone.
Free time? What’s that?
Holidays? Only with my laptop by my side.

Then, last winter, I came close to burnout. I could barely write. Getting out of bed felt as exhausting as running a marathon (not that I’ve ever done one of those). My emotions were all over the place. I found it hard to gather the creativity I need to write my books.
That was a wake-up call. I decided I needed to calm down, reduce my output, focus more on my backlist and repurpose my existing books through audiobooks and translations.
Then came the coronavirus and erased all my plans. The pandemic plus some events in my personal life meant I didn’t write much. This wasn’t the time to change my way of working; my routine was all that kept it together.

Now though, I finally decided to make a change. After reading an excellent report by Skye Warren (subscribe to her author newsletter, she's full of amazing advice) about how working only four hours a day can be just as effective as working long hours, I set myself that very challenge: a week of four hours a day or less. Not a minute more.

I split my four hours in half: two hours for writing, two hours for admin, marketing and whatever else needed doing. I printed off a time sheet to keep track of what I was doing in that limited time to hopefully learn if I did things that were unnecessary or repetitive.

I used a stopwatch to track the total time I spent working, pausing the timer whenever I got distracted or took a break.
At the end of the first day, I was surprised I’d managed to tick off everything on my to do list. Knowing I only had a limited amount of time, I’d raced through my tasks without procrastinating, checking social media or thinking about how to word an email for half an hour.

Writing also went well. I usually write in sprints and can average at least 1,000 words in half an hour. While I can do up to 5k words a day, I try to avoid that outside of deadlines because it makes me crash the next day. My target for this experiment had been 2-3k a day and I achieved that on five days. One day I spent my writing time editing a finished book instead and another day was a no-creativity day thanks to a migraine. Still, my daily average was 2,021 words so still within my target.

I realised that two hours of straight writing was more than I need. Two hours of sitting and thinking about words, easy, but sprint writing for two hours would mean I’d write at least 4k, which is more than my brain can manage most days. I don’t plot my books and rarely have any idea what will happen in them. My subconscious needs time to process and come up with fun plot twists, so I’ve found that after ninety minutes of writing I usually end up slowing down. Splitting the two hours into one full hour and then two half hours spread across the day turned out to be the most productive schedule for me.

I’d already tried working less on weekends in the past few months, so in this experiment, I reduced the four hours to two, with complete freedom what to do within those two hours.

After a week of this, I’ve come to a few realisations:
  1. I spend way too much unproductive time on social media. FOMO is real.
  2. I check my emails all the time, but I rarely respond to them immediately because I get distracted by other things and then forget about it.
  3. I have no idea what to do with my free time anymore. I need to revive my old hobbies and find new ones (and start being social again once the outside-is-evil-and-dangerous situation gets better).
  4. Sprinting with other people is more motivating than doing it by myself. I already knew that but this experiment confirmed it once again.
  5. It helps to spend an entire day on tasks for my other pen name, but planning that ahead isn’t useful because I can’t always predict when I need to do certain things for her.
  6. My PA is an angel.
So, am I going to continue with this?

Yes, I am. This week, I didn’t keep track of what exactly I was doing because that actually took up time I could spend on other things, but I am still using my stop watch to make sure I stick to four hours. I even backed an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to get a TimeChi, a smart productivity tool that might help me use and track my time even more effectively.

What I will change is that I’ll be more flexible about how much of my four hours I’m spending on writing, admin, marketing etc. On days when I’m really creative, I want to be able to write for more than just two hours, and vice versa.

I might experiment with other productivity techniques in the future, but I’ll definitely stick with this for the month of September – minus a few days off for my birthday celebrations.
 
What do you think about this? Could you get all your work done in four hours? Are you willing to try?
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<![CDATA[Great news: You can now get your audiobooks directly from me]]>Sun, 23 Aug 2020 16:09:39 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/audiobooks-direct
From now on you can get your audiobooks directly from me - and for much cheaper than at retailers. For example, Meow is only $2.99 compared to $17.99 at Audible. That's because I have no control over Audible prices whatsoever - I'd never make it that expensive on purpose. Anyway, all of my solo books are available already and the Seven Wardens audiobooks will be in my little store soon too.

At the moment my shop is only available in the US, EU/UK, Canada, and Australia. I'm so sorry if you're somewhere else. The second cheapest place to find my audiobooks is usually Kobo - or check at your local library.
Shop for audiobooks
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<![CDATA[Help, I've got Alien Implants!]]>Thu, 30 Jul 2020 23:16:14 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/help-ive-got-alien-implants
I love writing about aliens. In fact, I’m working on three different sci-fi romance series at once just now. But do I believe in them? I’m not sure. I definitely believe there’s life out there – the universe is too big for there not to be – but green men with antennae? Maybe not.

(Although I’d love to be abducted – aliens, if you’re reading this, message me to get my address and I’ll be sure to pack my things.)

Anyway, on the search for an alien chibi (see above!), I came across an offer on the service marketplace Fiverr to have alien implants removed.

Wait, what?

Alien implants? Inside of me?

Apparently.

Obviously, there was no way I could resist. So I bought it and dutifully sent my new ‘spirit healer’ a photo of myself. I didn’t see any alien implants on it, but maybe she could, right?
Three days later, I got my analysis in the shape of a surprisingly detailed document. I really hadn’t expected that for $5.
She began by telling me what’s wrong with me (note how I'm far beyond her scale's reach).
On a scale of 1-2600 your energy started out at 5500, which is a little over average and ended at 1050 which is better but I think we can get it higher. There was some resistance to release energy in the heart area, that might need more work. I feel like there’s a “mourning” that is going on there. I used a charged basalt (volcanic) rock from Cathedral Rock vortex in Sedona to clear a lot of your cords, attachments, debris and implants.
Wait, did she just say she found cords and debris inside my heart area??? Makes me feel kind of queasy. I have to admit, I felt them neither before nor after the cleansing (the only implant I’m aware of is my contraceptive implant in my arm and that’s easy to spot), but what do I know, I’m not a spirit healer who specialises in aliens.

To help me recharge my energy (mostly in my heart, throat and solar plexus), she recommended that I bring more yellow in my life – whether that’s food, clothing or flowers. I obviously put on the only yellow shirt I own right away. A quick look in the fridge showed some brown lentils. Can I count that as yellow? Sadly I’d already put all the bananas in a smoothie the day before.
You are being drained from your environment. Toxic people, environmental pollutants, and collective energies. Focus on cleaning up who you hang around, foods you eat, etc.
At the moment, the only people I’m around are folks online – I’ve not met anyone in person since March unless you count waving at neighbours or greeting the postman – and yes, there’s always some toxicity on social media. That must be where the alien implants come from.

I’m in several alien-related Facebook groups because of the anthologies and projects I’m involved in, so it’s no surprise really that I was damaged by that. Still, I don’t think I could step away from the Stolen and Seduced anthology (coming end of August!) or the three sci-fi romance series I’m working on. So come on, aliens, there’s enough space in my body for you all! I’ve gained lockdown weight just to make it easier for you.

The spirit healer also realised that I’m living in a turbulent time just now and recommended I meditate about water, which is “a symbol of emotion”. I did that and got thirsty. Maybe she overlooked an alien implant?

My favourite part of the entire letter was the end.
You are surrounded by fairies! They were watching me… hahaha.
So confusing. Are fairies related to aliens? Or are all aliens fairies? Are fairies watching me on behalf of aliens? Or are they attracted to all that alien debris?

So many questions. I wish she’d included a contact number for the aliens so that I could ask them. And beg them to abduct me. And maybe do some of the ‘fun’ kind of probing.

Anyway, I’m going to use this experience as inspiration for the story I’m currently working on: Alien Abduction for Beginners, the beginning of a trilogy that will be published in the Stolen and Seduced anthology.

Check out my existing sci-fi romance books:

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<![CDATA[Take a walk on the wild side...]]>Wed, 22 Jul 2020 16:46:14 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/take-a-walk-on-the-wild-side
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Fall in love with this paw-some collection of 12 shifter romances.

From spell-binding romances to heart pounding adventures, there's something for everyone in this collection of paranormal and urban fantasy romances. Whether you want to challenge the alpha, fall for the bear, or fly with the dragon, you can find it all within these pages. 

This set includes full-length books by:
  • New York Times Bestselling Author Felicity Heaton
  • USA Today Bestselling Authors Keira Blackwood & Liza Street
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Ann Gimpel
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Laura Greenwood
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Skye MacKinnon
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Rebecca Rivard
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Arizona Tape
  • J.A. Belfield
  • Ophelia Bell
  • Marie-Claude Bourque
  • T.K. Eldridge
  • Kate Rudolph
Get your copy
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<![CDATA[Release Giveaway]]>Tue, 14 Jul 2020 01:33:46 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/release-giveawayTo celebrate the release of Song of Souls, I'm giving away a signed paperback copy of the books as well as a large swag pack.

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<![CDATA[Top 6 Ways for Authors to Reach International Readers]]>Mon, 29 Jun 2020 01:25:17 GMThttp://skyemackinnon.com/news/top-6-ways-for-authors-to-reach-international-readers
Authors are always on the hunt to find more readers, but to do so, we sometimes have to look beyond the end of our own nose and expand our horizon. While there are many ways to discover those elusive readers who've just been waiting to read your book, one of the most important aspects of being an indie author is to think global. Ebooks enable us to reach people from all over the world, so we need to make sure that we're ready for those international readers.

First of all, “international” is relative. For me as a Scottish author, it means every country besides the UK. For an author in Australia, it will be every country and continent except for Australia.

Your aim as an author should be to target all readers, no matter where they are. It may seem harder to reach audiences who aren’t in your own country, but with a few simple methods, you’ll be able to increase your international readership.

1. Use universal links

Universal links, you say, aren’t they just for people who’re wide? I only sell on Amazon, I don’t need them.
As someone living in the UK, this attitude is a particular pet peeve of mine. Many authors only post Amazon.com links when they recommend their books. When I follow that link, I can’t just click the ‘buy’ button to get the book. When I’m at my laptop, it’s fairly easy, there’s a redirect option and the the Amazon UK page is just one more click away. If I’m using my phone, however, it’s an entirely different matter. The only way I can then get your book is change the URL from amazon.com/yourbook to amazon.co.uk/yourbook or open the Amazon app (or open Amazon.co.uk in a new tab) to search for your book. Both of that uses time. If I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d like your book or not, I might not go through all that effort and forget about it.
To the rescue, universal links. They transport readers right where they want to go: their own local storefront where they can one-click your book.
I personally use Books2read because it works for all ebook retailers as well as audiobook shops, plus it’s free and easy to use, but there are many other options, both specifically designed ones for authors like Booklinker (Amazon only) or generic URL redirect services (make sure they have a geographic redirect option).

By the way, it’s only Amazon that gives you this much trouble. Kobo, iTunes and Google Play all redirect to your own country’s storefront.
2. Adjust your prices

£3.62 doesn’t look very pretty, does it. Research into psychological pricing tells us that buyers prefer prices that end in .99, although customers in some countries are also okay with .49.
One study conducted by the University of Chicago and the MIT gave a group of women the choice of buying an item of clothing at either $34, $39 or $44. Even though $34 was the cheapest, most sales happened at $39. Nine is the magic number, so use it!

If that didn’t convince you, take a look at this Gumroad blog post showing that the conversion rate of $1.99 items on their website is twice as high as $2.

All retailers allow you to adjust individual countries’ prices. I know some authors want to make it as fair as possible to international readers by relying on the retailer’s exchange rate – but as a consumer, have you ever gone and compared how much a book costs in other countries? I highly doubt it. British readers won’t care what Canadian readers pay for the same book. What counts is that the price they see on the product page looks enticing.
3. Think of time zones

Imagine your best friends meeting every time you are at work (or putting your children to bed or having your daily tantric massage) so you can’t join them. Not very pleasant feeling, right? Fear of missing out, FOMO, is very real and very unpleasant.
If you have a social media presence, think about your audiences worldwide when you decide at what time to post. This is not to say that you always need to post in the middle of the night, but to be a little conscientious of where your followers are from. If you organise a group takeover, for example, make sure that at least some of the slots will be suitable for people from the other side of the world, and ensure that giveaways stay open for at least 24 hours to enable everyone to see the post and take part.
On Facebook, you can use the inbuilt scheduling function, while for other platforms like Twitter and Instagram you can use a scheduling app like Hootsuite.
4. Make prizes and offers available to all readers

“This giveaway is open to US readers only.”
As a reader, this would make me immediately turn away from an author, or at least leave a bad taste in my mouth that could develop into something more if this happened again and again. It feels like discrimination, like the author doesn’t value their international readers.

Yes, it’s not easy to send books and swag abroad. It’s expensive and a lot of work. But there are other options. If you don’t want to send a signed book, order the book in their country and send them a bookplate with your signature. If you want to send swag, upload your design to sites like Redbubble or Zazzle and order it from there – they ship to most countries in the world.

(Take a look at the cute space octopus face masks I’ve been using for swag!)

Gift cards are a little trickier. While Amazon and Kobo let you buy gift cards in other countries, Apple and Google Play don’t. Barnes & Noble is only available in the US, so not very suited for using in international giveaways.

Gifting books via Amazon or Google Play is only available in your own country, but you can use Bookfunnel or similar tools to gift books to readers abroad. If you publish directly with Apple, you can request review codes for your books which you can share with readers worldwide. On Google Play, you can send books to readers with their slightly hidden at the very bottom of your book’s Content section on your Dashboard.

If your prize really can’t be changed, offer an alternative prize of equal value if the winner is from another country.
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Google Play Dashboard
5. Avoid brand names

Before using a brand name in your writing, think whether international readers will know what you’re talking about.
If I mentioned my kilted Highlander snacking on Tunnock’s Tea Cakes, will all readers know what that is? Very unlikely (although everyone should try Tunnock’s at least once in their life). I can either replace it with a generic ‘I ate a chocolate-covered marshmallow treat’ or I can use the brand name but then describe it.
I nibbled on a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, enjoying the crunch of the biscuit while relishing the velvety softness of the marshmallow and the slowly melting chocolate coating my tongue.
There you go, now you kind of know what it is, at least the main ingredients.

If you’re in doubt whether your international readers will be familiar with a specific brand, ask them. Readers love being asked for advice and feedback.
6. Go wide

You will have noticed that I’ve mentioned not just Amazon, but many other retailers in this blog post. This is because I’m wide (= available at many retailers, not exclusive with just one) with all my books and passionate about it. Amazon may have the biggest market share in most countries, but it’s not as dramatic everywhere else as it is in the US (depending on what statistic you use, Amazon seems to rule up to 85% of the US ebook market).

Being wide with your books will help you reach new audiences and diversify your readership. When I started publishing in 2017, I was in Kindle Unlimited and about 77% of my sales came from the US. The year I went wide, this sunk to 66% (but total sales increased). Last year, it was 63%, but if you add audiobook and print sales, it’s likely even lower.
That’s not to say that I don’t want US readers, not at all. I want them and others. My aim is to be as inclusive as possible, reaching readers worldwide. Again, that’s where being wide comes in.

If you’re exclusive to Amazon, it’s likely because you’re in Kindle Unlimited and that you earn most of your royalties from page reads. KU is available to readers in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Australia – a lot of countries, but some English-speaking countries like New Zealand and South Africa are missing.

Kobo is great for reaching readers primarily in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but I have sales from all over the world there. They offer a (non-exclusive) subscription model in Belgium and the Netherlands, with plans to extend that to other countries soon.
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My Kobo sales in the first half of 2020 by country
Tolino dominates up to 40% of the German ebook market (figures vary a lot on that) – and I sell a surprising amount of books in Germany, even though my first translations are not yet live - while distributors like Draft2Digital and Publishdrive let you reach smaller retailers and new markets like China.
 
 
A few other random bonus tips and tricks that have helped me in the past:
  • If you write in a particular English dialect, say so at the beginning of the book. Before I did that, I sometimes got reviews claiming my book was full of errors (which it wasn't). Once I added a note that I’m writing in British English and therefore use words like ‘colour’ rather than ‘color’, those reviews immediately stopped. On that note, tell your beta readers about it too! I once had a beta reader who didn’t know about the differences in AE/BE and I ended up with a very red document, which was a waste of time for both of us.
  • If you use a lot of local terms, add a glossary.
  • Use beta readers from different countries to point out differences – I have readers from the US, the UK and Australia on my team, which means someone will always notice if I use a phrase or word that they’re not familiar with because it’s too British. I can then either change it, explain it or add it to a glossary.
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The glossary in Winter Princess
  • If you work with authors, designers, editors etc abroad, don’t use Paypal to pay or receive money, their fees are way too high. I always try and use Transferwise (referral link), which not only has much lower fees but also gives you the option to open virtual bank accounts in several countries. I get my Amazon US royalties paid to my US Transferwise account, which I then use to pay for author services, plus I can wait for the exchange rate to be at an optimal level before converting the USD to GBP. Their Mastercard also came in very handy when I was at a book signing in Australia earlier that year, I simply opened an Australian account and bingo, no fees when paying in shops, restaurants etc.

I hope this wee guide has been helpful. Let me know in the comments what your experience has been and if you have any tips on how to reach international readers!
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