The book publishing industry’s workforce was younger in 2014 than in 2013, and, as a result, average compensation was down year over year, according to our annual salary and jobs survey. Since the survey is random—questionnaires were sent to more than 5,800 PW subscribers at publishing houses—the change could merely be the result of a younger group of employees responding to it (there were more than 425 responses). But it is also possible that the data reflects the success publishers have had in replacing aging, experienced, high-priced baby boomers with younger, less expensive employees. Whatever the case may be, responses to the 2014 survey show some consistencies with past surveys, but also some noticeable changes.

The median age of those who responded to the 2014 survey was 35, down from 42 in 2013. The median number of years respondents have worked in publishing fell from 13 in 2013 to nine last year, with marked changes in the percentage of respondents with fewer than three years’ experience (up from 8% to 19%) and in the share of the workforce made up of the most experienced employees (18% of respondents had worked in the industry for 21 years or more in 2014, down from 25% in 2013). The declining share of experienced employees was certainly a major factor in reducing the average compensation for both men and women: average compensation for men fell from $85,000 in 2013 to $70,000 last year, and from just under $61,000 to $51,000 for women.

If publishers are indeed recruiting a new generation of employees, they do not appear to be hiring minorities. The share of survey respondents who identified themselves as white/Caucasian was 89% in 2014, the same as in the previous year. Asians remained the second-largest ethnic group within publishing, accounting for 5% of respondents in 2014, up from 3% the previous year. With the survey finding no real change in the racial composition of the workforce, it is no surprise that only 21% of respondents felt that strides had been made in diversifying the industry’s workforce in 2014. A much higher percentage, however, said they believe the industry has made progress in publishing titles by nonwhite authors and titles aimed at more diverse readers.

The lack of real movement in adding more minorities to the ranks of publishing houses has a range of causes, although respondents did highlight a few reasons that are often cited for keeping the industry mostly white: entrenched leadership that includes few people of color, low starting salaries and unpaid internships that together discourage minorities from applying to entry-level jobs, and not enough effective outreach to minorities. A number of respondents noted that they believe companies have started to try to broaden their workforce, but that those efforts will take time.

The We Need Diverse Books campaign was cited by several respondents as an important factor in their perception that the number of books released by or aimed at people of color has increased since 2013, even though no inroads were made in the publishing workforce itself. The increased attention given to diversity—in society in general as well as in publishing—has encouraged some publishers to increase their marketing efforts for books aimed at diverse readers. And one respondent observed that increased awareness about diversity has made diversity an asset for books rather than a detriment.

In addition to having difficulty hiring people of color, publishers have also been unable to attract more men to the profession. Women accounted for 77% of survey respondents in 2014, up from 74% in 2013. There was a smaller share of men among respondents with the least amount of experience than among those with more years on the job. Men accounted for only about 15% of respondents with fewer than three years’ experience, but they made up 27% of respondents with 11–21 years of experience and 54% of employees with more than 21 years on the job.

With younger employees taking part in the latest survey, low pay shot up as the top complaint among respondents, with 68% citing that as their #1 issue, up from 54% in 2013. But in a sign of renewed confidence in the future of publishing, company and industry instability was cited by only 25% as a major issue last year, down from 43%.

Respondents to the 2014 survey, despite making less money than their more experienced colleagues reported in 2013, felt secure in their jobs. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they were somewhat secure or very secure in their jobs, up from 77% in 2013, and 61% were very confident or extremely confident in the future of publishing, up from 54%. More respondents in 2014 also said their companies were either expanding or maintaining the status quo than in the previous year, with only 16% reporting that their company has been downsizing.

Although lack of recognition for their work remained an issue for many industry members, 74% reported that they have gained new responsibilities in the past three years. The most-often-cited reason for gaining new duties was some initiative they had taken on voluntarily (47%), and 52% said their new jobs came with raises.

The average increase in salary for all respondents in 2014 was 2.5%, down slightly from the 2.8% increase reported in 2013. As in 2013, there was a large group of respondents (24%) who said they did not receive raises at all last year. When asked to give their total compensation, 57% of respondents said they made under $60,000 in 2014, the same percentage as in 2013, and another 18% said they made more than $100,000, also unchanged from the previous year. Another finding that has not changed year to year was where the biggest paychecks are. Employees in management, where the greatest concentration of men are, took home the highest pay. Editorial employees had a median salary of just under $54,000, and women earned more than men in this department in 2014.

Differences in Pay Between Men and Women

Diversity Issues

Have strides been made in improving diversity in the workforce? White/Caucasian Nonwhite
Yes 21% 16%
No 40% 37%
Don’t know 39% 47%
Have strides been made in improving title diversity?
Yes 51% 66%
No 19% 16%
Don’t know 30% 18%

Top Complaints

68% of respondents were unhappy with their salary in 2014, the top complaint in the year.

Low salary 68%
Increased workload 53%
Lack of advancement 50%
Lack of recognition 47%
Problems with management 36%


47% of respondents said their companies acquired self-published books in 2014, a figure that rose to 60% among those working at general trade houses.

A Little Bit Worried

How secure do you feel about your job? Employees were feeling more secure at work in 2014 than in 2013.

2014 2013 2012 2006
Very secure 31% 21% 19% 22%
Somewhat secure 50% 53% 52% 55%
Somewhat insecure 16% 21% 18% 17%
Very insecure 4% 5% 6% 6%

The Status Quo

Well over half of respondents said their companies were maintaining staffing levels, and the share that reported cuts were a low 16.

Click here to order the complete 2015 PW Salary Survey for more data and analysis.