It comes as no surprise that publishers are the main beneficiaries from the publishing industry in terms of receiving the greatest financial benefits. However, up until 2002-03, the returns from publishing were not significantly different from returns from cash investment. Between 2001-02 and 2002-03, the operating profit before tax for book publishing businesses increased from $50.2 million to $88.4 million. The profit margin increased from 3.3% in 2001-02 to 5.6% in 2002-03.
In 2003-04, however, this situation changed dramatically. Overall operating profit for that period was $152.1 million or 9.7%. The profit margin for the 20 largest book publishers was 4.4% in 2002-03 but rose to 9.7% in 2003-04. Other book publishers had a profit margin of 10.2% in 2002-03 and 12.7% in 2003-04, which is a very healthy return by any standard.
Salary scales for publishers
At the end of June 2004, there were 5,300 people employed in book publishing. In 2003-04, 3,547 (67%) of these 5,300 employees were employed by the 20 largest publishers. In 2003-04, wages and salaries paid by publishers came to $266.1 million, which represented 19% of publishers total expenses compared to the 6.5% paid as royalties or fees (down from 10.9% the previous years). In 2003-04, royalty payments and fees paid by publishers fell 11% or $11.7 million from $102.6 million to $90.9 million.
In 2002-03, the average salary of full-time publishing employees was $46,554. In 2003-04, this had risen $52,300, an increase of 9% over the previous year. However, only 3972 of these employees were full-time. Therefore, many people working in the publishing industry earn much more. Senior sales and publishing managers may well receive $150,000 to $200,000, or even more with bonus payments and fringe benefits. Sales representatives will have salaries from $50,000. Administrative staff members have salaries starting from $40,000.
Salary scales for editors
Publishers use the term “editor’ with some looseness. “Acquisitions” or “Commissioning” editors may be publishers, and receive payment as such. The term editor here refers to those people who work on a manuscript and shepherd it through the production process. and are covered under the Book Industry Award. Under this award, trainee editors commence on a salary (at the time this was prepared) of $30,600 and the highest grade receives nearly $51,000 plus 9% superannuation. In practice, many publishers pay above these rates and offer fringe benefits.
The freelance rate for book editors currently appears to vary between $45 and $75 per hour. How many freelancers can be assured of this rate however depends on their desperation and the publisher’s powers of persuasion.
Payment scales for indexers
The Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI) recommends a base rate of $55.00 (excluding GST) an hour for its members. The same comment as above applies regarding how many indexers can be assured of this rate.
Remuneration to authors
Authors survive on royalties, payments for subsidiary rights, lending rights payments and payments for statutory reprographic rights (administered by Copyright Agency Limited [CAL]). Even so, the Throsby and Hollister report Don’t give up your day job indicates that in the period 2000-01 writers had a mean arts income of $26,400 and a median arts income of $11,700.
In 2001-02, the proportion of sales of Australian titles of $853.8 million paid as royalties and fees to creators was 10.9%, or $93.06 million. In 2002-03, the proportion of sales of Australian titles of $877 million paid as royalties and fees to creators was 11.7%, or $102.6 million. This amount dropped in 2003-04 to $90.9 million, only 6.5%.
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