Germany’s new “woman editor”

Interview: Anne Friebel of The Female Publisher says she and co-founder Josefine Podei created the network they saw was needed.

Anne Friebel, Editions Palomaa. Image: Christiane Gundla

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

“Women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to visibility and promotion”

Also today : Awards: UK Women’s Prize for Fiction jury names 2022 longlist

Oyou Publication prospects readers are obviously familiar with the PublisHer professional network, which is committed to working for gender equality in global publishing.

Today (March 8) we have news from a new network, The Female Publisher, run by Anne Friebel and Josefine Podei of Leipzig’s independent press, Palomaa Publishing.

It turns out that one of the inspirations for this new development was the experiences Podei and Friebel had during personal exchanges with other editors at the Frankfurter Buchmesse (2021) in October. And that led to the development of a program that now has about 30 members among its members.

In our exchange with Friebel, she says, “As in most other industries, women in publishing markets face a gender imbalance and are still disadvantaged in terms of visibility, promotion and networking by compared to their male colleagues.

“Even though a large number of women work in publishing,” she says, “they are less visible as figureheads or as strategists behind important decisions. They are therefore not as present, for example, in media coverage or in internal communications. This is my personal perception as well as the impression of many women in publishing, at least here in Germany.

Frankfurt’s experience in October, a return to a physical format for the show after the 2020 all-digital evocation of the show required by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, prompted Friebel and Podei to look for a way to address the issues. with his sister publishing professionals.

“When we visited the Frankfurt Book Fair in the fall of last year as an exhibitor,” says Friebel, “we had the great pleasure of meeting many female publishers there. We were positively surprised by the open exchange of knowledge, the invitations, the networking and the general atmosphere of collaboration rather than competition.

“We wanted to be part of this collaboration, and we eventually created the Instagram campaign #verlegerinnenmonat”, the month of editors, in January of this year.

“For an entire month, we featured women-led publishing houses through our hugely successful @palomaa_publishing Instagram account.

“After that,” she says, “we felt the need for a new space to channel this collaboration, and The Female Publisher network was born. In Germany, we didn’t have a free and specially designed network for women publishing leaders and women program managers, so we created it.

The new program is based on German-speaking publishing professionals and its members currently represent Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria. It’s not meant to be exclusive

“We’re always happy to include interested women who speak English,” she says, “but they need to be fluent in German one way or another. And we will see: I would like the network to be extended to new countries and languages ​​in the future. For now, we will start with a German network and see how it develops.

Focus: Three areas of gender imbalance

Friebel and Podei look at three key areas of book publishing that require special attention in gender equity issues. One of the most relevant observations you hear repeated from Friebel’s perspective is “collaboration, not competition” – something publishing professionals of both genders can easily recognize.

  • Female Authors: “It’s the fact that female authors are at a clear disadvantage,” says Friebel, “in terms of visibility, payment, tone and length of book reviews, compared to male authors. This needs to be addressed in the industry and the media immediately.
  • Women publishers: “It’s the lack of visibility, promotion and networking of women publishing leaders. This is where our network The Female Publisher can empower and connect women and encourage collaboration rather than competition.
  • Women’s Book Topics: Here, Friebel talks about “book topics that represent and cover women’s perspective and core issues, such as women’s health issues. These topics are often still considered taboo and need to be widely and easily accessible to readers, men and women.

Josephine Podei

A first dinner for members of The Female Publisher network is planned in Leipzig on March 19.

“Even though the Leipziger Buchmesse has been canceled,” says Friebel, “there are still many exciting events, exhibitions and readings all over the city in March.

“So we decided to go ahead with our dinner on March 19 and we already have a lot of reservations because the editors are in town anyway and they are excited to join us. So we are looking forward to this special event for us. And of course we are already looking forward to our network dinner at the Frankfurter Buchmesse in October this year. International guests, including English speakers, will be warmly welcomed.

Friebel’s enthusiasm for the new network of female editors is clear in her comments, and the core value she stresses in the effort is interaction – one of the most contested things, of course, during the years of the still ongoing pandemic. She says she would be “very happy to exchange knowledge and experiences with editors around the world. It can be networks, industry or exchange in general. In my opinion, we can all benefit from each other.

“I would like to emphasize once again, she says, that networking is an excellent tool for exchanging knowledge, getting to know and understand each other, finding cooperation and personal growth. And it’s a chance to unite and communicate mutual demands, for example to industry leaders or the media. In these times of digital communication, it’s easy to connect. So we say don’t be afraid to reach out and write an email or message to someone you admire or are just very interested in.

“In most cases, people will respond to you,” says Anne Friebel, “and it could start a great conversation.”

You can be in touch with Friebel and Podei at [email protected]


More information about Publishing Perspectives on International Women’s Day is here, more about women in publishing is here, more about diversity in the book industry is here, more about the German book market is here , and more on PublisHer is here.

To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for CNN.com, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.