Salaries are probably one of the most contentious areas of book publishing. It’s well known that few people go into publishing primarily for the money; more of us do it for love. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look closely at pay in our industry—and address some of the disparities in particular.
I am the author of the 2017 bookcareers.com Salary Survey, which is sponsored by Inspired Search & Selection and based on the salaries of 1,023 respondents, submitted online in June and July 2017. A third (33.4%) of respondents work for publishers that employ 100 people or fewer, which means the survey provides good coverage of IPG members. Overall, 84.6% of respondents were female, reflecting the balance of genders in publishing. More than a third (76.3%) were aged 35 or under.
Our survey found that the average salary—among full-time respondents earning between £16,000 and £90,000—is £32,228. This is up by 11.7% on the 2013 average of £28,661.
The average salary among all those working for companies of fewer than 100 employees is lower at £29,073. The average salary at companies with fewer than ten employees is lower still, at £26,707.
The average starting salary—calculated from those aged 19 to 23 and who have been in the industry for less than a year—is £20,470, up by 13.2% from £17,775 four years ago. It means that the disparity between entry-level pay and the average overall pay has narrowed in the last four years. Among companies employing between 1 and 100 employees, the average starting salary is £19,518.
Male v female salaries
Men are still being paid more than women in publishing, and the current pay gap between the genders is 15.7%. In companies with less than 100 employees, it is 11.3%. Substantially more men (47.9%) earn above the average salary than women (31.5%).
The disparity is largely due to the seniority of survey respondents: many men tended to be employed in management or senior roles, and many women appear to be in lower roles. Where men and women are performing equal roles, the gender pay gap is negligible, and in some cases women are actually getting paid more than men. But in an industry where the large majority of employees are women, it is disappointing that a gender pay gap occurs at all.
Around nine in ten (90.4%) of our survey respondents classed themselves as White. This is notably down from 93.7% at the time of our 2013 survey, but the hard work of some publishers and campaigns from Equip and Creative Access will have to continue if publishers are to properly represent today’s society.
Our survey provides lots to think about—not least the risk that narrowing the gender gap and improving diversity will bring complacency. It is also worth remembering that while some employees are only a pay review away from leaving, there are many other ways of rewarding staff and encouraging them to stay. Salary isn’t everything.
Suzanne Collier is founder of IPG member bookcareers.com, a specialist in career support, redundancy counselling and career development to the publishing industry. Further breakdowns of salaries, including by job title, and more than 150 tables of data analysis and commentary, are available in the full Salary Survey report, which is on sale now at £699. Email Suzanne Collier or visit the website for more details. All data is the copyright of bookcareers.com 2017 and should not be reproduced without permission.