Curbside Splendor Publishing is one of the most prolific independent presses born out of Chicago. Its history of unique acquisitions include Michael Czyzniejewski’s Chicago Stories, Amber Sparks’ debut short story collection May We Shed These Human Bodies, and Franki Elliot’s poetry collection Piano Rats.
In addition, Curbside Splendor has received accolades from L.A. Weekly, Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune. All of this would not have been possible if it weren’t for Jacob S. Knabb—Senior Editor and Co-Owner.
Knabb’s valiant efforts and passion towards literature are game changing, and as a result, Curbside Splendor is the perfect embodiment of what a publishing house should be. Knabb and his small but potent staff labor with blood, sweat and tears to insure that the books they present to readers are of top quality and ring true to the editorial standard that other publishing houses eschew in favor of larger paychecks.
I had a chance to interview Knabb and his answers offered me a glimpse of his genius and passion for literature. I hope you’ll enjoy reading his answers as much I did.
Tell me a little bit about your job.
I am the Senior Editor and Co-Owner of Curbside Splendor Publishing. I have an all-consuming job at the moment since CS is extremely ambitious while at the same time featuring a small core of staffers. I do everything from acquiring titles, to overseeing edits, to working with or even collaborating with our designers, to social media and web-management, to event planning, to attending conferences and trade shows, to publicity. Oh, and I also design some pretty cool flyers for our events and serve as a bang up host. My job literally is a 24/7 deal for me and I LOVE it.
What are some of the challenges you face when it comes to publishing books? What are some of the rewards?
The biggest challenges at present have to do with time, or a lack there-of. We are also working on nearly 20 titles which we will release in the next 12-months and just went live with Consortium Book Sales & Distribution at the beginning of June. So we’re learning on the fly and it’s so exciting and stressful.
The rewards are immense. I am doing what I love and am able to pay my rent and bills. I get to travel and hang out with amazing writers and designers and editors on a daily basis. I am a co-owner of my own business and am living out my dreams.
I was also recently offered and accepted a job teaching publishing and fiction at Lake Forest College and got it largely due to the work I’ve done at CS (though my work at ACM, the series and events I’d curated, and my MFA and publication history didn’t hurt). I’d say that’s quite a good reward.
How long have you been with Curbside Splendor?
A little over 2 years now. I came on board and brought with me Piano Rats and Chicago Stories, which I’d intended to publish through building a publishing arm at Another Chicago Magazine (where I was Editor-in-Chief at the time). I drunkenly boasted to Victor (Victor David Giron, founder, publisher and majority owner of Curbside Splendor) that if he could give me 5k to make a book (which became Chicago Stories) I could make him money. He spent more than that in the end, and the book did make a nice profit. I came on as a co-owner and we worked our asses off and the rest is history. We have one core belief at CS that comes down from Victor and is a mantra for us in all that we do. Nothing can ever replace hard work.
What books do you aspire to publish?
Loaded questions much? Honestly this is impossible to answer. Our books are not at all ‘of a piece.’ Our website says something fancy about how we look for books about the urban experience that are edgy and take chances and that we focus on design and those things are true. For me, though, the most important thing and what I look for first and foremost is a good story. I haven’t given up on narrative or the author or the novel or whatever. I don’t like Post-Modernism that much. Tell me a good story, write it in a way that can reach a large audience, make me feel things and turn pages as fast as I can to get to the end so I’ll know what happens. Do those things and I’ll probably dig your manuscript.
Who are your heroes? Why?
My parents. I don’t care if that’s cliched or provincial because it’s true. My dad was a coal miner and my mother was a schoolteacher and they literally sacrificed everything to make my life as good as it could be. They always put family first. I hope to be able to be a fraction as caring and loving and supportive in my life as they have been in theirs.
Does your work as an editor stymie your writing or encourage the process?
Stymies the shit out of it. And that’s ok. Though I am working on a serialized novel for THE2NDHAND at the moment that will go live in August of 2013.
What book releases are you most excited for this fall?
I’m excited for all of them. But my baby, my precious, is Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry. I literally acquired that one from a Facebook status Chris posted saying something like “I think I just finished my manuscript.” That book is the shit and Chris has a long career ahead of him as a novelist if he’s willing to put in the work. He can tell one hell of a story.
Jacob S. Knabb is Senior Editor and Co-Owner of Curbside Splendor Publishing. He will begin a professorship at Lake Forest College in the Fall where he will teach Fiction Workshop, Literature, and Publishing and will assume leadership of Lake Forest College Press / &NOW Books. He also likes to karaoke and take portraits of people.
Originally published June 13, 2013
Filed under: Interviews