Publishers Weekly‘s annual salary survey for the book industry has just been released. It’s full of nitty-gritty salary information for different professional levels.
But what’s newsworthy beyond insiders is this: in the area of diversity — the number one hot topic among the people who write books and the people who publish them — there appears to be “only slight progress” forward.
The share of publishing employees who identified themselves as white/Caucasian was 88% in 2015, hardly different from 89% in 2014. The share of male respondents who are white was 94% in the most recent survey, while 86% of women said they are white. Given the stasis in bringing in more members of racial and ethnic minorities into the industry, it is not surprising that only 30% of all respondents said they thought publishing had made some strides in diversifying its workforce. More white respondents, 31%, said they thought some progress had been made on the issue than nonwhite respondents, 21% of whom said they believed there have been advances.
Given the brouhaha over Lionel Shriver’s speech about cultural appropriation and diversity within fiction itself, this context feels vitally important — this is an extremely white world, the world of literary gatekeepers, decision-makers, and publicists.
It makes the idea that somehow artistic freedom is under assault by diversity seem more ludicrous than ever.