Subterranean Press is a specialty publisher of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Those beautiful bound little numbered novellas and limited edition boxed sets on your bookshelves? Check the publisher. Chances are the most beautiful ones came from Sub Press (I’m a fan of theirs, can you tell?). Yanni Kuznia, Director of Production, is also the editor of the Fantasy Medley anthology series, the latest volume of which is A Fantasy Medley 3. This series features new short fiction from some of the genre’s most exciting authors. The newest volume includes fiction from Jacqueline Carey, Aliette de Bodard, Laura Bickle and Kevin Hearne. Learn more about A Fantasy Medley 3 here.
Yanni was kind enough to let me behind the scenes of this acclaimed anthology series, how she got into editing, and her unique role at Subterranean Press.
Andrea Johnson: For folks who aren’t aware of Subterranean Press, what makes Subterranean different from other publishers?
Yanni Kuznia: Subterranean Press is a small press that specializes in signed, limited editions of genre fiction. We use archival quality paper, real cloth and leather cases, and commission new illustrations for our editions while consulting with the authors to make our books readable pieces of art.
AJ: Subterranean Press has a pretty small staff, so everyone wears multiple hats. Can you tell us a little about what you do at Subterranean? What is a typical work week like for you?
YK: As Director of Production, it’s my job to keep titles moving through the production machine. I need to make sure every book is proofed, art is commissioned, signature sheets are designed and signed, ARCs are ordered and sent out, authors receive and return page proofs, and that everything is reviewed one last time before we go to press. Of course, I have help doing all of this. I have two wonderful people, Geralyn Lance and Kyle Brandon, who work under me in Production, overseeing the day-to-day of several titles each. We talk continuously throughout the process to make sure every milestone is hit on time.
I spend a lot of time responding to email. Email is how everything is recorded and tracked here, so if Bill and I talk about something, there needs to be a follow-up email. If I call an author or an artist, there needs to be a follow-up email. If a SubPress employee asks for time off, I need to approve it via email. We work with a lot of freelancers, and all communication is done via email as well. “Email or it didn’t happen.” has saved our collective butts more than once. That and aggressively labeling every email for cross-referencing.
In recent years, I have taken on some of the art directing and acquisitions. I also manage the company’s HR and coordinate with our warehouse so that they are kept abreast of what’s in the pipeline and what the shipping priorities are. I keep an eye on the day-to-day operations and keep the SubPress machine running smoothly.
AJ: How did the FANTASY MEDLEY anthology series get started? How do you decide what stories to include?
YK: Not long after starting at SubPress, Bill [Schafer] decided to toss me in the deep end of publishing, by editing my own small anthology. I was ridiculously lucky to have the first four authors I queried, Robin Hobb, Kelley Armstrong, C. E. Murphy, and Kate Elliott, say they would love to write short fiction pieces for me. I was even luckier that they were all fully invested in the anthology and as excited as I was to produce it.
The series started as an anthology of women in fantasy. Female protagonists, women writers. Obviously that has expanded in subsequent anthologies, but I continue my commitment to the anthologies consisting mainly of stories with female or minority protagonists. That’s the only guidance I give the authors. Beyond that, I want the writers to write the stories that are burning holes into their brains. Stories that they are excited about. I’ve yet to be disappointed.
Throughout the series, I have been fortunate to have wonderful writers, who’s work I have long admired, say yes, and then proceed to write positively spectacular stories for me to publish.
AJ: What was the most challenging thing about putting this anthology together? What was the most fun part of putting the collection together?
YK: The most challenging aspect of this anthology was narrowing down who to approach. Like most lifelong readers, I have a list longer than my arm of authors I dream of working with. Fortunately, as long as the series continues to perform well, I’ll be able to continue working my way down that list!
The most fun part of putting the collection together is getting to read the stories! I was a reader and fan long before working in publishing, and I have never lost the thrill of reading stories by writers whose work I adore. It’s even better knowing I’m one of the first people to get to read the stories, and then I get to share them!
AJ: Generally speaking, Subterranean commissions a lot, and I mean a LOT of artwork (which is part of the joy of owning Sub Press books!). Any favorite pieces from recent limited editions?
YK: I love the Julie Dillon cover for Mira Grant’s Rolling in the Deep, all of Lauren Saint-Onge’s pieces for Midnight Tides, and her cover for Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. Both artists have been phenomenal to work with, and I really hope we get the chance to commission more pieces from them.
AJ: Did you really sew a My Little Pony badge to William Schafer’s computer bag? Or is that just an urban legend told ’round the filk circles of ConFusion?
YK: I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in procuring an MLP patch that an unnamed seamstress attached to Bill’s computer bag. Nor will I confess to painting the warehouse bathroom eggshell pink one weekend with Geralyn and telling everyone that it was that color when we moved in…a year prior.
AJ: Thanks Yanni! Keep up the great work!