Shawntelle’s Got You Covered – an interview with Kimberly Killion
Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m excited about this December post since I get a chance to interview Kimberly Killion, the creative director and owner of the Killion Group, the newly formed umbrella company for Hot Damn Designs. They design romance covers and so much more, but I won’t go into that since Kim’s the focus of this interview.
Let’s get to the first question that will lead to all the other ones:
Shawntelle: What services does the Killion Group provide for the romance community?
Kim Killion: Wow! I hope you’re sitting down. The Killion Group continues to add services monthly! Right now, I think we’re offering everything but house cleaning and babysitting. But seriously, we strive to be a one-stop shop for authors while maintaining quality. If you just need an eBook cover, we’ve got you covered. If you’d like a POD cover and some Romance Trading Cards. We can do it! If you’re like some of our clients and want to focus on writing, we can design your cover, format your story for print and/or eBook, upload for you and now turn it into an audiobook for you. Do you have a traditional print book that you’d like to get back out there to your readers? We can scan it, format it, put a new cover on it, narrate it… We are truly the ala carte menu of author’s needs. From branding to websites to covers to formatting AND beginning in 2013, we hope to offer authors a brand new service. Keep an eye on us for that announcement. Here’s a link to everything that we do: http://thekilliongroupinc.com/services/
Shawntelle: I find it amazing that you’re able to be a romance author and graphic designer at the same time. What are some of your titles available for readers?
Kim Killion: I have 2 historical titles still with Kensington, HER ONE DESIRE and HIGHLAND DRAGON. I have 2 titles with Ellora’s Cave, EDUCATING APHRODITE and TAMING A HIGHLAND DEVIL, and 3 books I’ve self-published, CARIBBEAN SCOT, MY CURSED HIGHLANDER and HIS MAGICK TOUCH. The latter two titles are in audio production and I’m so excited about getting those up on Audible.com.
Shawntelle: Let’s get into the process of how a cover is born. I have a question from a reader named Ashley, then I’d love to learn more about how you create covers:
“Do the designers have to read a little bit of the story or have the author give them some of the elements of the story in order to be able to make a cover that really fits with it? Or, do they just read the synopsis and ask the author what the people should look like?”
Kim Killion: We send each client an extensive Cover Questionnaire. It has places for links to images the author likes, a place for the blurb so I can get a feel for the book, hero and heroine description areas the list goes on. By the time the author fills that out, I should have everything I need to design a cover that will match their story and the genre.
Shawntelle: What is the most important part of a romance cover in your professional opinion? If someone is starting out designing covers, what would you recommend they study?
Kim Killion: Typography is a skill that is very much under-appreciated. There are skilled illustrators out there who can give you an awesome graphic but if the type fails, then you do not have a marketable product. There are certain fonts that stand out better than others and certain fonts that are used for certain genres. That’s where I would recommend a new designer start the learning process. Anyone can learn how to use Photoshop, but knowing how to use the tools is just the beginning. Design is a skill that must be learned as well.
Shawntelle: Your company provides stock images for customers to purchase. How did that idea come about? Okay, I have to ask. Who chooses the models for the photo shoot and can I take over her job?
Kim Killion: The standard stock photo sites really lacked this type of imagery. I needed more. So I hired a photographer and we’ve been shooting ever since. I never thought within a 2 year period we’d have 10,000+ images for sale. It’s really quite tremendous!
Ah, the models I choose the models for each shoot. Of course, I’m constantly receiving links from people of hot sexy men. I look for more than just good abs. Yes, I look for those, too, but the male models need to have a strong jaw and a look that makes me shiver. He needs to have an emotional look that will show through on set. It’s not an easy find. We try to have a variation in hair color, hair length and build of the body type. It’s a goal to continue to keep it fresh and add different models to www.HotDamnStock.com As for your application. If you’d like to be put on the list of people to help look over potential models, take this number. *Kim pulls a ticket from her briefcase* Um, it looks like you’re number 1 million and six on the volunteer list. Bahahaha!
Shawntelle’s Note: Have you seen Kim’s Interview for Popular Romance Project? Be sure to check it out: Kim Killion’s Interview for the Popular Romance Project from Laurie Kahn.
Shawntelle: I’ve helped at photo shoots before. It was so much fun, but you are very focused while you work. What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I do love it, but it’s super stressful because it can be very pricey. Plus, I have to direct so many people at the same time: the models, the photographer, the hair and makeup stylist, the costume assistant and then there’s usually at least two more people wanting an answer from me regarding something. On top of all of that, I have to remain creative and fresh with each session. That’s the hardest part. Getting new poses that will display well in a 6 x 9 format with a title, and author name and fine print. When I see the shot, I envision all of that overtop of it. It’s exhausting and I tend to falter after about five hours.
Shawntelle: Last, but not least, pick one of your favorite designs and tell us what made it so special. What is the design process or the end result or the reaction from the readers?
Kim Killion: Oh, wow! Super hard question! We’ve done over 1,500 covers. There are so many I like in so many different genres, but I will select the covers I did for Lila DiPasqua because they received rave reviews. I had a lot of time involved in creating those and they became like children to me. I think the images below tell the rest of the story.
About the author:
Shawntelle Madison is a web developer who loves to weave words as well as code. She’d never admit it, but if asked she’d say she covets and collects source code. After losing her first summer job detassling corn, Shawntelle performed various jobs from fast-food clerk to grunt programmer to university webmaster. Writing eccentric characters is her most favorite job of them all. On any particular day when she’s not surgically attached to her computer, she can be found watching cheesy horror movies or the latest action-packed anime. She lives in Missouri with her husband and children.