Salaries in Publishing

So how much money do publishing jobs pay?

That’s the question, right?  I doubt many people enter the publishing industry purely due to financial motivators.  I’d like to think most people have at least some semblance of passion for the industry or for writing in general.  Having a job you enjoy is great and all, but money matters.  In general, people don’t work for free.

Salary Disparity Between Agencies

The trouble with discussing publishing salaries in general terms is that the factors and variables which combine to form a specific salary fluctuate incredibly.  For example, a book editor for one agency can make as much as $80,000 while a person doing the same job for a different agency might only make $35,000.  If one examines other positions within the publishing industry, you will find that such inconsistency is much more common than uncommon.

Salary Disparity from City to City

However, it isn’t only a variance from agency to agency.  Environmental factors weigh heavily on the salaries offered.  For example, according to data collected by, the salaried positions in NYC pay 14% more than the national average.  Considering the cost of living in NYC is estimated to be 49% higher than the US average, it changes the way that 14% salary boost is perceived.

Salary Disparity Depending on Work Experience

Another important factor in determining publishing salaries is an employee’s work history and experience.  For example, browsing job listings showed that entry level candidates should expect to earn significantly less than a candidate entering with multiple years of experience in the industry.  In some cases, the disparity was as large as ~30% ($45,000 vs. $58,000).

Disparity Between Job Duties (Is It Worth It?)

The grass isn’t always greener.  Keep that in mind.  It’s important to be aware that the job duties and responsibilities of a particular position can vary significantly from one employer to another.  For example, when comparing job listings for Editorial Assistants, such fluctuation is apparent.  Different agencies have different expectations for their particular positions.  As a potential employee, it is important to consider if a higher salary for one agency is worth any potential added job responsibilities.  By the same token, some people might be glad to take slightly lower salaries if it results in a lower-stress environment.  In the end, it is ultimately about both choice and weighing benefits vs. costs.


As I have tried to make crystal clear, it is virtually impossible to establish an “average salary” for a particular position within the publishing industry.  Not all agencies utilize the same set of staff positions, and some agencies double or triple (or more and more) up on job duties.  That being said, I have browsed listings and self-reported salaries for an assortment of publishing jobs.  Below you will see a list of salary averages for each position.  Remember, these salaries are dependent upon several factors and absolutely should not be taken as verse.  They are simply a rough guideline for what a person might expect when entering into a position in the industry.

Lots of Numbers

Book Editors – $62,000
Managing Editor – $76,000
Editorial Assistant – $33,000
Copy Editors – $41,000
Literary Agents – $60,000 (HUGE range. Huge.)
Literary Scouts – $48,000
Publicists – $44,000
Production Editors – $47,000
Marketers/Copy Writers – $47,000
Sales – $SomeNumberThatHasTooManyVariables
Photographers – Mostly Freelance, so payment has a wide range
Art Editor – $34,000
Commissioning Editor – $55,000
Translator – $50,000
Web Content Manager – $94,000 (One of the most consistent salaries)
Publishing Editor – $45,000
Magazine Features Editor – $52,000
Proof-reader – $45,000
Publishing Rights Manager – $30,000

Discussion Questions

  1. If you were to take a position within the publishing industry, do you think you would prefer a higher salary with more job responsibilities or a lower salary with fewer job responsibilities?
  2. After looking at these salary “averages,” do any of them stand out to you in either a good or bad way?  Do any seem higher than you might have expected?  Do any seem lower than you expected?
  3. Are there any publishing jobs not listed here that you would like to look into in regards to earnings?
  4. For anyone considering a career in publishing, does seeing the consistency present among the digital media-related publishing careers, does it affect how you might approach your job search and/or skill building?
  5. The majority of publishing jobs are located in areas with a higher-than-average cost of living.  Do you think it would be worth it to take what could proportionally be a pay decrease in order to take a position in one of these areas?  Do you believe the potential for additional networking and/or exposure outweighs the loss in purchasing power?


How to get a job in Publishing



So, you’ve decided to do it. After countless hours of contemplation, academic pressure, and soul searching as a writer, you’ve decided to pursue a career in publishing.

The easy part is over.

Publishing is not a profession you jump right into. One can’t just decide at random to pursue a career and expect to quickly immerse themselves in the publishing world. The essential element for anyone wanting to pursue a career is to have a vision. Without a vision, you essentially rely on a semirandom assortment of events; why leave your career to chance?

A degree followed by master’s degree is a key element as well. Typically, a simple Bachelor’s degree doesn’t separate one applicant over another. A master’s degree shows your commitment to your vision of a career in publishing. Today though, that’s not quite enough to get your edge over your competition. Including previous works that have been published shows everything they need to know about you as a person.

Your published works are your reputation. A good reputation is built over time, but one false step can keep you from that dream job. A false step really depends on the circumstances around it but in general: keep your social media clear of anything offensive or inflammatory, and stay out of trouble with the law.

The degree of difficulty of the application process depends on what publisher one is applying to. An independent publisher specializing in a topic may seek someone with insight into that subject. One seeking employment with a big 5 publishers will have major competition. There is no definitive way to set yourself apart being that this is completely subjective. But if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.


  1. What sets you apart from others that would make you a good candidate?
  2. If you are planning to go into the publishing world, have you prepared adequately?






Effects of Digital Media

The “digital revolution” has singly handily changed the traditional publishing. Digital Media is only one of the forms of the “digital revolution”. With the rise of sales in ebooks, many thought that hard copies of books will be long gone. With the rise of the digital revolution, we also saw the rise of digital media. Digital media does provide a cheaper and easier form of marketing for publishers and authors. But as digital media grows and evolves, it has also become harder for authors to get their name out there. It also helps the publishers to provide a cheaper way of marketing.

“As social media platforms evolve, adding new tools, mobile offerings, and enhanced personalization, indie authors are evolving with them. Facebook, Twitter, and the other major platforms are more crowded than ever, requiring authors to find more creative ways to be heard above the noise.” There is so much more to marketing using digital media than  simply making an account and posting, “Buy My Book!” While using these sites is cheap, there does have to be some money put to get your name around.


  1. On most of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, you can pay to promote your account and your posts.
  2. Google Ads are a big hit with a lot of self- publishers.
  3. Post Videos on Youtube
  4. Make connections with other authors in the same genre. They can post about your book to help you.
  5. Live streaming on social media. Authors can post live videos to help interact with their readers, such as Q & As.
  6. A interactive website is also a big hit with authors. You can post excerpts along with other things.






Shifts in Marketing Strategies


The market of publishing has shifted as the age of social media has come into the world. This has created a new outlet to advertise books and push for the consumers to buy the books at hand. The publishers marketing strategies had to shift in recent years to keep up with the ever-changing social trends of the internet. Kristin Fassler, VP, Director of Marketing at Penguin Random House, voiced her opinion on the matter saying, “publishers will have to be much more imaginative and innovative as they experiment with different social platforms [and] manage social advertising budgets.” This shift in what the consumers want has made the marketers have to change their way of thinking about how they need to go about selling their product.

In recent years marketing in general has taken a leap from the typical cookie cutter fluff to build a companies brand into what we see today as ultimately a paradigm shift. Researching this paradigm shift I found that there are three parts that created this shift.

  1. Consumers do not want to be bombarded with advertisements every two seconds. From advertisements on their social networks to spam mail, this does not make the consumer want to buy, but instead avoid the product out of pure annoyance. This proved that the customer wanted the brand to care about them, not just hassle them for their money or time.
  2. Have you ever been browsing on the internet and looked up one item, and then for the rest of the day all of the ads on your computer were about this item or products similar? This is not a coincidence. Now marketers have figured out how to use data that they collected to better understand what their consumers want. By listening to this they have learned what we like and what we want in our products. Marketers are using their “access to data and dedication to ‘optimization’ that makes real time marketing possible. They can reach consumers on an individual level — and meet their needs.” Instead of guessing what an individual consumer may want or need in a product these marketers now know by the use of this form of technology.
  3. Self-promotion is now the way of the past and seen as a turn off in the marketing world. When a consumer sees a company promoting themselves instead of looking to fulfill the basic needs and wants fulfilled in a product they may want to buy they immediately see distaste in this strategy. “The most successful and compelling brands are the ones that listen as much as — if not more than — they talk.” The consumer has a need to be heard. This way of thinking has shifted marketers and made them focus more on the question of,”What do the consumers need?”, rather than,”What does our company need?”

As the marketing world has continued to shift, due to the use of social media, one trend has appeared that, until the age of the internet, seemed unimaginable.”Now it has become a predictably efficient routine to sell information products by permitting potential consumers to sample a virtual smorgasbord of free digital content. Publishers and content marketers literally give away their stores with the confidence that eventually, a number of these users will convert to paying customers for premium content and experiences. That’s where the profits are made.” Instead of an author selling their books up-front, giving sneak previews of the text has become a trend among writers today. This marketing strategy is done with a hope that maybe one day this will lead to the reader actually purchasing the whole book, not just bumming off the free dozen or so pages that are easily accessible on the internet. This strategy may make some uneasy, but it does lead to successes. Giving the audience just enough of the story peaks their interest and makes them want more.

Not all of the shifts in marketing strategies cause problems for the advertisers. In fact, publishers have a big advantage in these shifts if they focus on one specific element to the equation. New York Times editor Neil Chase stated that,”“The publishers have a distinct advantage that nobody else can quite match: audience.” Marketing is not primarily about making money. It is about forming a relationship with your consumers so that you will have repeat customers. Lucia Moses of Digiday agrees stating that “the best examples seem to come from the publishers that are fully committed and are putting a lot of [human] resources behind it.” It is easy for a company to think about what it will gain from book sales, but trying to form a personal relationship with your consumer is an advantage that will only help you form a bigger customer base if done in the right way. This strategy is the same for any publisher, weather they are self published, independent, or part of the big five. If the marketers remember who their audience is that the writers are writing for they will have a better chance at success, but if they begin to become greedy and selfish the consumers may see that they are not genuine in their actions. This will cause the potential to lose a return customer. Shifts will happen in the world of marketing, but if the publishers and marketers remember who their audience is they will be able to keep up with the changing trends that make the marketing world go round.


  1. How do you think companies today try to focus on their audience in an attempt to form a relationship with their consumers?
  2. What would you say is the biggest factor today in the shifts of marketing strategies for publishers?
  3. How do you think that social media trends have affected book sales?
  4. How do companies advertise their books today to draw the consumer in, as opposed to ten years ago?





How and Where Books are Sold


  • Before a bookstore decides to sell a book, the publisher gives the bookstore a catalog with that certain seasons new books and a copy of what is on their back list catalog.
  • A sales representative that is either hired by the publisher or an independent sales group whose only association with the publisher is that they are helping sell their titles, they relay book orders and inform the publishers if any book stores need more shipment.
  • There are also book distributors that acts as a marketer, warehouse, and shipping department. They are the ones that sell books to libraries, wholesalers, and bookstore. They take most of the weight off of the publishers in selling the actual books.
  • Wholesalers stock large varieties of titles from many publishers making it an “every once in awhile” kind of place for a bookstore or library to buy their books from.


  • There are many ways and places books are sold, here are some of the most popular bookstores within the United States:
      • Amazon Books
      • Barnes & Noble
      • Bookmans
      • Books-A-Million
      • Books, Inc.
      • Family Christian Stores
      • Follett’s
      • Half Price Books
      • Hudson News, chiefly located at airports and train stations
      • LifeWay Christian Resources
  • Many independent bookstores around the country are also successful in reaching their readers.
  • Books are not only limited to just physical bookstores thanks to the digital age. Online bookstores have made it super accessible for people to buy more books at a faster rate and cheaper cost. Here are some: