November 10, 2017

Same as it ever was: Publishers Weekly has released its 2017 Industry Salary Survey


Folks, it’s that most wonderful time of year, when we all gather around the water cooler and grumble about our salaries, the pay gap, and a horribly entrenched lack of diversity in publishing.

Last week, Jim Miliot of Publishers Weekly wrote up the magazine’s annual Industry Salary Survey, and—surprise, surprise—everything that was a bummer last year (a dramatic pay gap between male and female employees, a stunning lack of racial diversity, stagnant wage growth, etc) is a bummer this year.

But before we dive into the depressing sameness of the report, it’s worth noting that, for the first time, PW also included questions related to internship programs around the industry, which is a positive development.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that their houses worked with interns. Sixty-seven percent of those respondents said that they paid their interns, with a median hourly rate of $11.80.

Unsurprisingly, small publishers were less likely to pay their intern. At houses with more than $100 million in annual sales, eighty-one percent of internships were paid. Why one in five ginormous houses don’t pay their interns is left as an exercise to the reader.

And now, on to the sameness.

When you look back over the results of the survey since PW picked it back up in 2013, the numbers are strikingly consistent. Annual pay raises came in at 2.7 percent for 2016, and have hovered between 2.8 and 2.5 percent over the previous four years. The average salary gap between men and women respondents clocks in at a pretty wild $28,000, which is actually down from last year’s number ($35,000 for those keeping score at home), but right at the five-year average of $27,050. At the same time, women made up a greater percentage of the workforce than at any point in the last five years, accounting for eighty percent of all respondents.

(You can find previous salary surveys from PW here: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.)

The median salary for men was $93,000 (which is strange, considering how few people you meet in publishing who can afford their own apartments), and the median salary for women was $65,000 (which probably explains the apartment thing). Both numbers are slightly above the five-year average, as one would expect with annual raises of 2.7%.

Management positions remain the highest-compensated in the industry (duh), with average annual salaries of $127,000 for men and $117,000 for women. Next-highest are jobs sales and marketing, where the pay gap is also starkest: men make an average of $96,000, and women $66,000. Editorial workers received the lowest compensation, with men raking in $57,000 and women $58,000. (Yes, thats a reverse wage gap. Go get it, girls.)

If the publishing industry were a state, it would be tied with Louisiana for the worst wage gap in the nation. The wage gap in New York—the most equitable state in the nation—is eighty cents on the dollar, which is still terrible.

For the third year running, PW also looked at racial demographics. News flash: publishing is eighty-seven percent white.

This is the second year in a row with a reported decrease in the percentage of white workers: it’s down one single percent. But that grim reality did not keep thirty-seven percent of respondents from claiming that “progress had been made in hiring more people from historically underrepresented groups.” Which historically underrepresented groups they had in mind remains unclear.

This is all sad and the same and really there’s nothing left to say that we didn’t say last year, but we’ll say it again anyways: these numbers are embarassing, and we need to change the way we hire, and the way we allocate resources, and the way we share and provide opportunity to people of color in the industry.

Organizations like We Need Diverse Books, Latinx in Publishing, and others have been working steadily towards these goals. Support them if you can, and see you next year.



Simon Reichley is the rights and operations manager at Melville House.