The publishing industry made more incremental improvements in 2018 in several areas that have been long-standing trouble spots, according to PW’s annual salary and job survey. The industry’s racial makeup became slightly more diverse last year—though, with whites comprising 84% of the workforce, publishing remains an overwhelmingly white business. In 2017, whites comprised 86% of publishing employees. (This year’s survey was sent out to employees at publishing houses in September and we received 699 responses, the majority of which, 66%, came from trade houses.)
The pay gap between men and women closed by $7,000 in 2018 compared to 2017, but that reduction was due to a decline in the median compensation for men in 2018 compared to 2017 (compensation fell from $87,000 to $80,000), while median pay for women held even at $60,000. A major reason women maintained their pay levels is that, in the area of operation and production—where women have long held a greater share of the jobs than men—they outearned men in 2018 by $13,000; in 2017, men earned more than women.
2017 was the first time women held a greater share of management jobs than men, and in 2018 they once again had a majority of jobs in that area, though their share fell to 52% (from 59% in 2017). Still, the median compensation for a woman in management was $126,000 last year, up from $110,000 in 2017. Male managers also had an increase, with their median pay rising to $139,000 (from $118,000 in 2017).
A key factor in the overall gap between the pay of men and women is that men have more experience than women. The median number of years of men in the industry who responded to the survey was 17.5, compared to 10 years for women. Far more men have been in the industry for more than 20 years than women—38% compared to 17%—while women, as has long been the case, dominated the ranks of workers with three years or less experience by a count of 12% to 5%. Moreover, 29% of women who reported to the survey had three to seven years of experience, compared to 17% of men.
The Nonwhite Experience
Nonwhite survey respondents were much more likely to be new to the industry than whites. Nineteen percent of nonwhites said they have been in publishing for three years or less, compared to 10% of whites. Employees with three to seven years of time in the industry accounted for 38% of nonwhite respondents, compared to 25% of whites. Only 10% of nonwhite respondents said they have been in the industry for more than 20 years, compared to 23% for white workers.
Editorial is the department that has attracted the highest per- centage of nonwhite employees, with 44% of nonwhite respondents working in that department. Thirty-five percent of non-whites said they were in sales and marketing, while only 5% of nonwhites were in management, compared to 10% of whites.
In terms of job satisfaction, 42% of nonwhite respondents said they were either extremely or very satisfied with their jobs, compared to 50% of white employees. Forty-two percent of nonwhites were somewhat satisfied with their jobs (36% for whites), while 17% were unsatisfied with their jobs (14% for whites). Of those were who somewhat or not satisfied with their jobs, low salary was the top problem for both whites (62%) and nonwhites (68%). For the most part, there wasn’t much discrepancy between the complaints of whites and nonwhites about the causes for dissatisfaction with their job, with one exception: 30% of nonwhites said their work was unfulfilling, compared to 17% of whites.
Perhaps because a high percentage of nonwhites have been in publishing for a relatively short period of time, 43% of respondents said they expected to be at a higher position at their current company in two years, compared to only 29% for whites. Conversely, 33% of whites said they expect to be in the same position at their current company in two years—much higher than the 15% of nonwhites who expect to be in the same position.
Progress made in diversifying publishing’s workforce continues to be viewed differently by whites and nonwhites. Fifty percent of whites believe strides have been made in diversifying publishing, compared to 44% of nonwhites. Nonwhites also have a stronger belief that little progress has been made in adding more people of color to publishing, with 38% saying no strides have been made, while only 25% of whites believe not much progress has been made.
Both whites and nonwhites have a more positive view of the industry’s success in diversifying the types of titles published: 80% of whites said progress has been made, as did 74% of nonwhites. But a still-significant percentage of people of color, 19%, believe no progress has been made in diversifying title output, compared to only 9% of whites.
Women Still Dominate the Workforce
The gender composition of publishing did not change in 2018—80% of respondents said they were women, 19% were men, and 1% were nonbinary.
For the 2017 survey, we asked for the first time if companies had sexual harassment policies in place, and 77% of respondents said their companies did. That percentage rose slightly in 2018, to 80%. However, a higher percentage of respondents this year, 62%, said they don’t know if complaints are followed up on, compared to 50% last year.
For the third year in a row, the median pay raise in 2018 was 2.7%. Forty percent of respondents who received a raise in 2018 said it was a merit increase, while 32% said it was a cost of living increase. Twenty percent of respondents said they received no raise in 2018.
This piece has been updated to correctly represent gender composition percentages.