Book Publishing has a reputation for being notoriously underpaid, but how do we even know what people are being paid?

Transferable skills

Back in 1995, Suzanne Collier ran her first Salary Survey, causing uproar within the industry. No one ever talked about pay and publishers were highly suspicious of the survey as they thought it would lead to a rush of staff demanding rises. This didn’t materialise, although one Managing Director complained about the results because they thought the salaries were too high!

‘How can you make informed career decisions if you don’t know what the pay is?’

Now 22 years on, Suzanne is still producing periodic salary data, through her Careers Consultancy and the salary survey, sponsored by Inspired Search & Selection Ltd, has gained credibility throughout the industry. The results are used widely by everyone, including The Publishers Association, and most rely on the Salary Survey to give them an insight into the one thing that drives every company forward – their employees.

Whilst you might think the survey is all about pay, and it is often used in salary benchmarking, the results tell a much bigger story. Some of the topics it looks at include diversity, equality, training, Masters courses, the impact of digital skills, morale and causes of stress. The data gathered goes to produce a full report of over 150 different analyses. It also includes a question which monitors how well publishers might be performing on Human Resources issues.

Over the years, some questions have been retired and others introduced. ‘This time we’ve added in questions about commuting, and the cost of the commute, as well as asking people why they might stay in a job, rather than only ask them why they want to leave’. ‘We’ve kept in the new question from the 2013 survey – honestly do you think you are underpaid, and if so why? – as whilst it might seem a daft question to ask, and you’d expect everyone to say, yes of course I am underpaid, it actually produced an insight into why someone might feel demotivated in a role.’ ‘The question we’ve finally put out to grass is – what is your marital status. No matter how I have analysed it, via pay, holiday, working hours, overtime, stress, it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference, and in today’s society, asking someone if they are married seems a little inappropriate.’

The data gathering is currently ongoing if you work in UK book publishing or for a literary agency in a salaried role, you have until midnight on Friday 28th July 2017 to contribute. Suzanne will be hosting a live twitter chat this Friday, 21st at 12.00 noon using the hashtag #bookcareers to discuss some of the data gathering and questions that arise from the survey. The results, due in September, will be used for the next three years, so do participate on

Suzanne Collier is the founder of, a career development consultancy focused on all aspects of book publishing. She provides qualified career guidance at all levels for those within the industry. @suzannecollier @bookcareers

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