Publishing industry employees earned a little more money in 2015 than they did in 2014, according to PW’s annual salary and jobs survey. The median pay raise in 2015 was 2.8%, up from 2.5% in 2014. Moreover, the percentage of employees who said they received no raise fell dramatically, from 24% in 2014 to 15% in 2015. The share of employees who received a raise of 3%–5.9% jumped to 29% last year, from 21% in 2014. Most of the raises were merit based, although 21% of responding employees said their raise was tied to a promotion.

Salary Increases

With the lift in pay, the median salary for publishing professionals who responded to the survey was $66,038 in 2015, up from $65,000. As was the case in 2014, last year the $40,000–$59,999 bracket had the largest share of employees, at 28%.

There were no dramatic changes in the 2015 survey compared to 2014. Indeed, one of the most consistent findings over the years—the gap between the earnings of men and women—was as stark as ever. In 2015, men earned an average of $96,000, compared to an average of $61,000 for women. Furthermore, 72% of men reported that they earned $70,000 or more compared to only 41% of women. The most common salary range for women was $40,000–$69,999; 42% of women in publishing had salaries in that bracket.

The reasons for the disparity were also in line with previous years. Management, the area that has the highest average salary, was also the area with the largest share of men (men occupy 46% of management jobs). Women were more dominant in other areas, where the average pay is lower. Men were also found to have more experience than women: men reported an average of 20 years’ experience in publishing, while women averaged 12 years on the job.

Total Compensation, 2015 vs. 2014

2015 2015
Under $40,000 14% 16%
$40,000–$59,999 28% 29%
$60,000–79,999 17% 18%
$80,000–$99,999 12% 15%
$100,000–$149,999 18% 13%
$150,000 or more 10% 10%
Median $66,038 $65,000

Women accounted for 74% of all respondents, the same level as in 2014. They reported being frustrated with the ongoing pay gap. Less than half of women respondents, 46%, said they were extremely or very satisfied with their job, compared to 58% for men. Low pay was cited by 60% of women as the reason for their dissatisfaction, making it the number one response to this question. Only 43% of men cited low salaries as a major complaint about their jobs; increased workload was the most mentioned issue, raised by half of all men.

Despite lower salaries, women continue to enter the publishing workforce at a far greater rate than men: 23% of women respondents had seven years of experience or less, compared to 9% for men. Moreover, 25% of women respondents were 21–29 years old, compared to only 4% of men. But once men get in the industry, they stay: 43% of men reported that they had worked in publishing for 20 years or more, while only 23% of women had that much experience.

Median Compensation

Job Title By Gender


Racial Makeup of Publishing

Top Complaints

Low salary 56%
Increased workload 53%
Lack of advancement 49%
Lack of recognition 43%
Problems with management 38%


Little Progress on Diversity Issues

Although the topic of diversity has received more attention in the industry over the past few years, responses to this year’s survey suggest that only slight progress has been made. The share of publishing employees who identified themselves as white/Caucasian was 88% in 2015, hardly different from 89% in 2014. The share of male respondents who are white was 94% in the most recent survey, while 86% of women said they are white.

Given the stasis in bringing in more members of racial and ethnic minorities into the industry, it is not surprising that only 30% of all respondents said they thought publishing had made some strides in diversifying its workforce. More white respondents, 31%, said they thought some progress had been made on the issue than nonwhite respondents, 21% of whom said they believed there have been advances.

Survey respondents reported more progress in diversifying the types of titles published by the industry. In 2015, 67% of whites believed publishers released more titles aimed at minorities (up from 51% in the prior survey), while 57% of nonwhite respondents said they felt the same (down from 66% in 2014).

The results are based on 483 completed online questionnaires from publishing employees who subscribe to PW. The survey was conducted July 14–August 4, 2016. Respondents to the most recent survey were older and more experienced than respondents to the previous one and more in line with results from most earlier surveys. The average age of the most recent respondents was 40, compared to 35 in the prior survey, and the average number of years in the industry was 13, up from nine a year ago.

Diversity Issues

Have strides been made in improving diversity in the workforce? White/Caucasian Nonwhite
Yes 31% 21%
No 38% 47%
Don’t know 31% 32%
Have strides been made in improving title diversity?
Yes 67% 57%
No 16% 38%
Don’t know 18% 4%

Here are some other temperature-taking results from the survey:

● Given the current state of the economy, 53% of respondents feel somewhat secure in their current positions, 26% feel very secure, and 20% are either somewhat insecure, very insecure, or worried.

● In the next two years, 38% of respondents expect to be in the same positions at their current companies, and 21% expect to be in higher positions at their current companies.

● 56% report that their companies are currently “holding steady,” 28% say they are “expanding,” and 15% are “retrenching.”

● 48% of respondents report that their companies have acquired a book by a self-published author in the past year (57% of trade publishers have acquired a self-published book).

Job Security

Very secure 26% 31% 21% 19%
Somewhat secure 53% 50% 53% 52%
Somewhat insecure 14% 16% 21% 18%
Very insecure 6% 4% 5% 6%

Company Climate

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A look at compensation for top executives at publicly traded publishers and booksellers.