Guest Blog: Yanni Kuznia

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Poster’s note: I met Yanni several months ago, online, when she invited me to participate in a Subterranean Press anthology, literally the day after I’d been thinking, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to get a chance to work with SubPress someday?” She’s up next in our ongoing attempts to get a view of other angles of the publishing industry, so without further ado, here’s Yanni! :) -Catie

Hi there and welcome to the show! I’m Yanni Kuznia. In another life I was a Russian historian, professional actress, and stuntwoman. In this life, I’m Director of Production at Subterranean Press. For those of you not familiar with Subterranean, or SubPress as we affectionately call it, we publish lavishly designed, and frequently illustrated, collector’s and trade editions of a wide variety of books, both new and previously published.

I’ll be honest: I’m pretty new to the whole publishing industry. About a year ago, I met Bill Schafer, the owner of SubPress at PenguiCon 5.0 while I was liasing for Guest of Honor Elizabeth Bear. After Bear introduced us, we happened to sit next to each other during a rather dull panel. We snarked a bit, then decided to take it outside. Turns out our senses of humor gelled quite nicely and we lived within shouting distance of each other. Not long after, Bill offered my first professional proofing gig. He called it my audition (he was pandering to my actress nature). If I did well, there would be more proofing jobs in the future. Apparently, I must have done something right as I’ve been at SubPress full-time for something like seven or eight months now. It’s been quite the learning experience for me, with a lot of growing pains and even a few screw-ups.

The question I’m asked most about my job is, obviously enough, what do I actually do? Well, my work starts after the publishing arrangements with the author, agent, and/or original publisher (if applicable) have been made. The computer file for the book is sent to me and from there I must: prepare the file for the designer; approve the initial book design, proof the book (either myself or send it to somebody else), find artwork, choose the materials the book will be printed on, and bound in, and send everything off to be printed. Thus far I’ve taken three books through the entire process and had my sticky fingers in nearly every book we’ve published since last September.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been reading since I could understand that the squiggles on pages corresponded to the garbled sounds coming out of our mouths. However, there’s a world of difference between reading for fun or information and reading for mistakes of various kinds, such as–but not limited to–punctuation, syntax, and formatting differences. It’s hard, folks. It’s like reading a contract. Your eyes sometimes start to glaze over. You realize that you’ve read the last three pages without really seeing them, and it’s your head if it goes to print with mistakes in it, so you go back to cover your butt–and the pages. I’ve learned that at some point you realize that you always are worried you missed something and you just need to pull the trigger to get the little bugger to the printer.

And it’s not just about the words on the pages. You have to coordinate what the author wants, the interior designer wants to do, what you want, and what you think the customers want or will appreciate. Sometimes you want to spend more on the design than the book’s price point will allow and have to make that painful decision between artistry and running a business. Because it is a business, and while making the books is artistic and creative, at the end of the day you have to pay the authors and artists and printer and all the other people involved or else what you do won’t matter because it won’t be produced.

In the end it’s really amazing when you get the book in your hot little hands and say, “I did this. I put this book together. People are going to read this!” I realize I’m biased, but SubPress puts out some beautiful books and being able to say I had a part in it is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling things in my life.

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9 comments to Guest Blog: Yanni Kuznia

  • Thanks, Yanni! I’m a big fan of Subterranean – every time there’s another Tim Powers book listed, I’m all atwitter! You guys put out beautiful books. 😀

  • Thanks Misty! I’m assuming you’ve seen Power’s Fisher King trilogy we’re working on. They’re the first books I’ve taken all the way through the process, and I’m tickled pink with how they are turning out. I just got my ARCs and boy are the covers and interior illos pretty!

  • I did see them. They’re gorgeous! You’re cruel, to tempt me so. 😀

  • […] a Director of Production at a small press does? According to Yanni Kuznia who holds that position at Subterranean Press they do a lot: My work starts after the publishing […]

  • Thanks for the great post, Yanni, and welcome to MagicalWords. Very cool perspective on the process.

  • Bea/Melissa

    I loved reading about another side to the work that goes into producing a book. Thank you for sharing!!

  • This is definitely one of the toughest jobs in the publishing business. From what I read you have to clone yourself and have understanding in several fields like proper writing, editing, artwork and negotiation + the ability to spot quality materials for printing the book + multitasking. Sadly, this is one side that rarely gets mentioned as well. Quite frankly I always thought that there was a team that took care of the different tasks.

  • Hi Harry,

    I do have to do a great deal of multi-tasking and have a wide knowledge-base in order to do my job. And I constantly have to shift gears between tasks as well as remain focused on what needs to be done when. But I’m part of a small press, which means we double or triple up a lot of the jobs that a large publisher would have teams to work on. My job isn’t indicative of the equivalent job title at one of the large publishers, which isn’t to say they don’t have a lot on their plates too.

  • […] Yanni Kuznia (whose LJ handle I can’t remember!) of Subterranean Press was good enough to guest blog for us at Magical Words on […]