Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Common Unasked Question

It is not a question that I am asked very often and I've been asked many questions from writers. I suspect more people think about this question than actually have the boldness to ask it. Here's the question: How much money do editors make?

I'm talking about their actual salaries. I've met individuals who are interested in becoming an editor and joining a publishing company. It's not difficult information to locate because each year Publishers Weekly makes an annual salary survey then published the results. In their July 28th issue, they published the latest article about it called "Measuring the Salary Divide."

If you know nothing about this area, the first sentence of Jim Milliot's article will be a bit startling to you: "In an industry where 93% of the workforce holds college degrees, the average salary in publishing remains relatively meager compared to other professions, especially for women."

Milliot also hit me with the beginning of his second paragraph: "Indeed, if content is king, then the editors who help create it are being paid pauperly wages; no matter how you slice it, editorial spots tend to be the lowest-paying in publishing."

With these numbers, why are we not surprised the leading figure under "major gripes" was low salary (59%)? And if you wonder why your editor goes into management, if they want to stay in publishing and gain a better salary, management is where the higher salaries are located in this survey.

While you may not have asked about the editor's salary, if you want to get a book published, I recommend that you be aware of this information as another bit of data about the inside scoop on publishing.

The editors may not make a lot of money at the publisher but they do have considerable power to sway others on the inside of the company and champion your cause. It's why you want to continually work at building and strengthening your relationships with these editors.

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1 Comment:

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Indeed, having been in publishing all my career, I know firsthand that it is a low-paying industry. Lower than teacher's salaries, even. And editors are ALL tremendously overworked.

The reason publishing pays so poorly, I believe, is the low profit margin on books, and the several "fatal flaws" in the industry, one of the biggest being that bookstores get to sell books on consignment, essentially. Meaning that they can return books for full credit after only a few months, and the publisher and author have to "eat" that.


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