In 2013, when Q&Q released its last salary survey, the industry was in a different place. Companies were facing the perceived threat of digital publishing, which led to a new category of jobs requiring advanced tech skills. Judging from the number of respondents in this year’s survey who identified as having digital-related responsibilities as part of their jobs – rather than their sole responsibility – a more holistic approach is now at play. The 2013 survey also preceded several major consolidations, including the Penguin Random House Canada merger and HarperCollins’s acquisition of Harlequin. The number of respondents from the multinationals increased this year from 19 to 30 per cent, which hopefully presents a more balanced look at the current Canadian publishing landscape.
There is some good news in this year’s numbers (view the full salary survey here). Overall, people are happy. Out of the more than 340 respondents who filled out the online survey, 62 per cent said they expect still to be working in the industry two years from now (10 per cent do not and 28 per cent are undecided). This is up from 22 per cent in 2013. Job satisfaction has also increased, with 59 per cent of respondents scoring their levels as very good or excellent. Salaries have also increased, and the number of respondents who received a raise of three per cent or more rose from 37 to 48 per cent.
But here’s where the major problems lie. Women’s salaries have remained stagnant at an average of $45,100, whereas men’s have increased to $60,600 (from $54,000 in 2013). In an industry dominated by women, this type of discrepancy is unacceptable. The numbers can potentially be explained, at least in part, by the number of respondents in entry-level positions, particularly those in marketing and publicity departments.
For the first time, we asked respondents to provide more demographic information about themselves. Although the survey captures a small sample size, the numbers confirm that Canadian publishing has a diversity problem: only 13 per cent identify as being non-white and only 3.2 per cent identify as having a disability. The effects trickle throughout the workplace: diversity and equity came up as top issues around overall job satisfaction. (Workload and vacation time remain major complaints).
These responses should come as no surprise to anyone. Pretty much every professional-development event and major literary festival has at least one panel discussion dedicated to the need for equity and diversity, and it’s a perennial topic on social media. There is no one magic solution – this problem requires a variety of perspectives. To begin we asked author Adam Pottle to respond to the numbers. We learned more about online accessibility and what Q&Q can do internally, as survey administrators, to make future polls available to a broader audience. He takes a holistic approach to the lack of disabled writers and industry workers. We also spoke to agent and activist Léonicka Valcius about the challenges of reaching new audiences for diverse titles, and why it’s vital to have representation within publishing houses. Without that balance, any efforts – even the most well-intentioned – will be unsuccessful.