Editor’s note: This interview has been translated from German. Click here to view the original interview. In this interview series, we introduce literary freelancers. Whether author, translator, editor or event organizer: Each and every one has made their way into freelancing. What was it like for you, Steffi Bieber-Geske? Introduce yourself briefly: Who are you and what do you do in the literary industry?
I am Steffi Bieber-Geske and for the last twelve years I have been working as a children’s book author and publisher with Biber & Butzemann, the publishing house for adventure stories about the most beautiful places in Germany and beyond. Together with my team I have also been organizing the Berlin book fair BUCHBERLIN, the corresponding conference, a digital advanced training event for authors and publishers, as well as the children’s book fair BUCHBERLINkids since 2014.
What was the biggest challenge at the start of your career?
During my time as a student of Literary and Communication Science, I was already deeply interested in the book market. Initially, I decided to pursue a career in journalism instead, as I had been writing for several daily newspapers, and later even companies, since the age of 16. Founding the publishing house in 2010 was a passion project I pursued while on parental leave. The biggest challenge we face – just like many small and medium-sized publishing houses – has always been generating visibility. That is why I founded the book fair BUCHBERLIN as a platform for independent publishers and authors.
What has been the most important realization in your career up to this point?
One needs to have a vision, resilience and a lot of patience in order to succeed on the book market, be it in editing, writing, publishing, selling books or organizing a fair. In my opinion, success is only achievable if one is able to withstand setbacks and stagnation. It took years until my publishing house made any profits. Today, we are the leading publisher for regional children’s books in Germany with a program that includes 90 titles. BUCHBERLIN started out with 65 exhibitors, whom I knew personally for the most part, in the main lecture hall at a university. By now we are the third biggest German book fair, filling the Arena Berlin with 300 exhibitors.
What advice would you give to people starting out in your field of work?
I would advise anyone striving to work either as a freelancer or self-employed in the literary business to start off with a part-time job in the field while working a day job in order to pay rent. It is always risky to put all one’s eggs into one basket. Financial insecurities are not helping to promote creativity. [vc_separator] Steffi Bieber-Geske was born in 1978. Since the age of sixteen, she has been writing for daily newspapers and, later on, companies and organisations. She studied Journalism, Psychology and German Literature – with a focus on children’s fiction and fairy tales – at Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität Berlin. Today, the mother of two sons successfully writes and publishes children’s literature.
Image in header: © Pierre Adenis
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