The making of Seeking The Brown Mountain Lights cover for CC Tillery

BML2 for KDP (Small)  BML2 (Custom)   BML2-audio (Small)

I can say on this cover, that it is a good thing I don’t charge by the hour for most aspects of my book cover design.  I spent literally several months worth of time on this cover starting before the first book in the series was even completed. I even spent more time on this one than I did all of my covers combined. This is one of those times that all the changes ran the price up.

Knowing this was part of a series made it trickier because it had to tie in with the first one and be changeable enough for the books to follow.

On all the photos below, ignore the title changes on the pics shown- as I just used fill in words not knowing what the title would be. I spent time digging through my photos trying to find covers that fit with what the authors were looking for that applied to their book. This is not something I typically do.

I’m not sure of the order of all this but originally when working on the first book in the series it was going to have different scenes than the photo of Brown Mountain- like a waterfall or old building.

That changed to different seasonal nature items being put in front of the Brown Mountain shot. The choice was made for cotton and the season was winter which required major editing to the original photo.

I found and temporarily borrowed some clip art just to do mocks with. But as I too often do, I ended up doing more than rough mocks of each cover with cotton added to the mountain.

I normally charge to locate props. I spent time on eBay looking to buy cotton, finding out if there was anywhere local I could get a twig of a cotton plant, and looking no less than half a dozen times every time I went into Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Then I finally found some, bought and photographed it for them.

The decision was made to make the mountain more of a winter scene and the cotton was no longer to be used for this book. Maybe it will end up on a later one. Finding and shooting Joe Pye weed was requested for a future book. Two hikes and one photo shoot later I now have cotton and Joe Pye weed shot.

I found and bought a photoshop action that added snow over the existing shot of Brown Mountain. I again made up detailed renderings instead of rough mockups. They were well received.

Then I pretty much waited for the title to be revealed under the assumption other than adding the title that it was basically a go as it was.

In the midst of doing the 2nd book cover, I also reworked and remade the Best Selling sticker for the Appalachian series.

Then a replacement for the cotton was requested. I again searched through my photos, this time for winter scenes and pinecones. When I didn’t have a winter scene photo that would work or a pine cone that would be easy to composite I should’ve stopped and had the authors find and purchase clipart or I should’ve done a custom photo shoot because the time spent masking around pinecones not shot for this purpose is seriously time-consuming and way more photo editing than basic edits. I know better.

On November 10th I sent the pine cone mockups for them to choose from with the note that they were loosely masked around as I had now lost count on the fairly detailed mock-ups. Then the snowflakes were decided against, but a request to leave the snow so the lights on the mountain showed up more like the first book.

Since this series covers time travel I decided to combine the first book with the lights showing with the snow scene I’d created from the original photo.  Nope that was a no go, and I was back to the pinecone but on a winter scene sans snowflakes.

At first, one author liked the top pinecone. One liked the bottom pinecone. Knowing I shouldn’t spend the time making basically two almost completed covers I did it anyway.

I think part of the problem on this cover is it was worked on for so long. It was actually started before the first cover was even finished and then as things progressed in the book, the cover needed to be changed. Next time I’ll just write the ideas down and wait till it is just within the few weeks I need to make a cover to start.

I don’t know if non-photographers can visualize what I’m saying without seeing it but getting approval over every detail pretty much takes my creativity and design away and has me spending too much time on one cover.

It is harder the more people that are in on the decision-making process too. Almost a month later on December 6th I read the email that said they chose the bottom pine cone. I went to work doing the detailed masking of pulling the green needles off the green background – literally talking to myself about how foolish it was that I just didn’t hunt down a new pine cone and shoot it for a composite on a background I could easily mask from.

At least now, 19 mockups later, the series theme has been decided which will help with the books to follow. Plus I already have two items custom shot that could be used for those.

I enjoy the friendship that has come from these covers and I appreciate being given the trust and opportunity when I first started designing covers and hope to learn from my overdoing, and spending so much time on so many detailed options.

My time is as valuable as everyone else.

I’ve learned to go back closer to my business plan and the terms stated on my site. At least all that time and effort ended with clients that are happy with the end products.

The authors have been asked to enter a monthly cover contest by for February and have made it to the final 4. Click here to vote

Whew, now maybe I can kick back with a hot cup of coffee, read this second book in the series and get back to working on my own projects.

CC Tillery banner_FB (Small)

This series already has the series logo, and like the first book in the series the authors started with the ebook, following with the print book, an audio book and updating their social media banners and a remake of their business card.

Click here to check this series out. They are available in paperback, ebook and audiobook. Christy and Cyndi, the sister duo that writes as CC Tillery can also be found at WNC events where you can purchase signed copies and talk to them in person.

Here are my other post about CC Tillery covers

If you are interested in having a cover designed click for more info. Just know that I plan to follow what is stated on my website and this cover was an exception to that.


3 thoughts on “The making of Seeking The Brown Mountain Lights cover for CC Tillery

  1. CTHodges

    Kim, I know how difficult this cover was and I wish I had the words to tell you how much we appreciate all your hard work. You are, without a doubt, one of the most talented and creative cover designers I’ve ever worked with. Perhaps it’s because you’ve worked on your own covers or it could be because you are such a good friend, or that you really want your cover designs to reflect the work. Who knows? All I know is you are extremely talented and we are so grateful to have you designing our covers. Here’s to the next one being a lot easier! Thanks again, Cyndi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KiM Post author

      Wow, I should add that to my testimonial page 🙂 I do want the cover to be the best I can make it because I know what goes into writing. Here here to the next one being easier. The best part out of all of these covers I think is the friendship that was made.


  2. KiM Post author

    This book cover design has made it to the final 4 in a cover competition by for February and have made it to the final 4. Click here to vote



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