When Heather Blain-Yanke was first hired as a Layout Assistant, almost 40 years ago, WLU Press was known as Academic Publications and printed about 10 books a year. Today, she’s the Production and Editorial Projects Manager and oversees the 35-40 titles we now publish annually.
Heather’s seen big changes come to the publishing industry. Her earliest responsibilities included the laborious duty of printing out camera-ready copy, manually changing the typesets on the printer where different fonts and sizes were required. After revisions, she would use a light table and an x-acto knife to superimpose corrections onto the original script. And when it was finally ready for printing, she would have to individually inspect printer-supplied negatives for dust spots to make sure the finished product came out properly.
It isn’t hard to imagine why we only published 10 books a year.
Heather’s process has changed considerably since then. After a book is acquired, Heather launches workflows, monitors the editorial process, establishes budgets, manages freelance designers and compositors, and works with printers, juggling many deadlines along the way. When a book is ready for production, she supplies designers with cover design elements and suggestions. “There’s such a satisfaction when you see a book come into print,” she beams.
If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is.
As technology has evolved and enabled WLU Press to publish more and more books, Heather’s job has gotten more and more, well, crazy. “You learn quickly in this job that you have to be very organized,” she explains. One of her tricks? Perhaps counter-intuitively, Heather uses printed documents and schedules to keep herself organized. But most of all, she’s just one of those fast-thinking, fast-moving doers who knows what she likes when she sees it, and seems to be wired perfectly for the multi-tasking role she’s mastered. “I can talk fast,” she fires out, then catching herself, “I have a pretty busy brain.”
As our conversation wound down I asked Heather to select some of her favourite designs from our more recent books. Here’s what she said:
Mapping the Literature of Out-Migration
Jennifer Bowering Delisle
“I love the cover design and the use of gloss spot varnish is a nice touch. The chapter opener design treatment has played off the dots on the cover, which I think is quite clever.”
Ecocritical Essays, Avian Poetics, and Don McKay
Travis V. Mason
“It’s just a gorgeous cover design. I’d like to pet that bird. The interior design is very clean and tight.”
“I’m drawn to the beautiful colour of this book. It has a very calming effect.”
Heather’s busy brain gets its downtime after hours, when she likes to read fiction and spend time on her boat. Maybe her quirkiest quirk? Heather is a design and layout junkie who actually prefers her printed work sans serif. “It’s more modern,” she says.