Beacon Press has increased its entry-level salaries to $44,600 a year, increasing the entry-level salary by $9,000. More salaries in the company were also adjusted, with additional thought given to work, average industry wage, and other accomplishments. With the recent success of a number of Beacon titles, the independent press has been placed in a position to raise salaries, its leadership said in a statement. The new bonuses were announced to staff on September 24 and went into effect on October 1.
The increase follows a similar announcement at Macmillan, which raised its baseline pay to $42,000 last week, and during a time in which the coronavirus pandemic and the rise in interests in social justice issues has led to significant changes in the publishing business. Some parts of publishing have seen booming book sales, especially this summer, when Black written and promoted books sustained best-seller lists for weeks. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, many backlist books regained new popularity, with a number of those titles coming from Beacon.
White Fragility, a 2018 bestseller, shot to the top of lists in May of this year. Since January, the book has sold 765,000 print copies, according to NPD BookScan, and is still continuing to trend up; Beacon told PW in June that the book had sold more than 1.5 million copies since its release. The rest of Beacon’s current bestsellers were written by Black authors, inspiring the company to put a decided interest in cultivating their diversity, both with regards to its authors and workforce.
This new salary increase is also an example of publishing trying harder to attract and retain diverse voices. Most research cites low-paying starting positions as barriers to entry into the publishing world, especially for people of color. While a pay increase across the board cannot address all of publishing’s diversity issues, a raised wage provides incentive for younger staffers hoping to break into the business to stick with it.
“In addition to wanting to compensate our talented staff for their sustained hard work, we want to do everything we can to bring more BIPOC individuals and those from historically marginalized communities to Beacon Press and publishing, and also to help make publishing attractive at all levels," Beacon Press director Helene Atwan said in a statement. “We hope this encourages other publishers to look at their salary ranges and make publishing viable for many without generational wealth.”