PLR

PLR Time for UK Authors

If you’re a UK author registered for PLR, you can now check your earnings for 2014/15 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on Statements.

This year (covering July 2014 to June 2015) they are paying 7.67 pence per library loan. Payment will be made between 10 and 19 February 2016, in accordance with your payment instructions.

For those who don’t know, PLR (in this context) stands for Public Lending Right. The UK PLR Office distributes money to UK authors based on the number of times their books have been borrowed from public libraries in Britain (and now also the Republic of Ireland) in the last year. This money is paid to authors as compensation for their presumed lost royalties on sales.

All UK authors are eligible for PLR (even if they don’t currently live in Britain), but you do have to register with the UK PLR Office first. If you’re a UK author with at least one published book to your name, therefore, you should sign up immediately to get what is due to you.

Non-UK nationals cannot claim from the UK PLR Office, but many other countries (though not the USA) have schemes in place to compensate writers for library lending. Australia, for example, has what appears to be quite a generous program, though payments are based on the estimated number of copies of an author’s book in libraries, not total loans. For more information on PLR schemes worldwide, visit the PLR International website.

In many countries there are also reciprocal arrangements to compensate non-nationals for lending in the country concerned. In Britain this is co-ordinated by ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society), and UK authors should also register separately with them. ALCS also collect and pay photocopying fees due to UK authors, incidentally.

I always find it interesting to study my PLR statement. One message that comes across very clearly in the latest is that library lending is down considerably. One reason for this is likely to be that  people are switching to e-books and the Internet. In addition, though, cuts made by local councils mean that there are simply fewer public libraries than there were before.

On the brighter side, I am still earning some PLR money from books that were published quite a few years ago. My book Advertising for the Small Business was published in January 2000, for example, and must be of mainly historical interest now. Still, it got borrowed from public libraries 170 times last year, earning me the princely sum of £13.04!

Over the years I have made literally thousands of pounds from PLR and ALCS payments; in the case of some books I have earned more from these sources than I have in publisher fees or royalties. So if you’re a UK author, it is definitely worth taking the few minutes needed to register yourself and your book/s with UK PLR and ALCS. Otherwise, you really are leaving money on the table!

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TV crew

What I Learned From My First TV Appearance…

I’m hardly an ‘A List’ writer, but from time to time I do get asked to appear on TV or radio. Typically, nowadays, this happens when a producer Googles the topic of his show, and one of my books comes up in the results list.

TV appearances in particular can be a great opportunity to promote yourself and your books to a large audience – so while I do still get a bit nervous before going in front of the cameras, I usually accept any invitations. (Although I did turn down one opportunity recently to discuss obituaries, where I had been asked because I wrote a novelty book about ‘famous last words’ ten years ago.)

Anyway, I thought in this post I’d tell you about my first-ever TV appearance, over twenty years ago, and what I learned from it. It was arranged by the publishers of a book I had written called How to Find Your Ideal Partner. As you may gather, this was a guide for single people on how to find the love of their life – sadly it’s out of print now…

The publisher told me I’d be appearing on a regional evening news programme. Unfortunately it wasn’t in my area but in the East of England. I was promised a rail travel voucher and an overnight stay in a nice hotel, but no fee. Still, hopefully the appearance would give sales of my book a big boost, in East Anglia anyway…

At first, all went well. I arrived at the station mid-afternoon and found my way to the hotel. I had been told a taxi would pick me up at six pm, so I amused myself for an hour or two watching afternoon TV and using the hotel swimming pool and sauna.

The taxi duly came, but instead of taking me to the studio as I expected, I was delivered to a local technical college. ‘This is where they’re filming,’ the taxi driver explained helpfully.

OK, then. I headed for the college reception and explained my business. I was directed to a small room where a trio of bored-looking technicians were drinking coffee from plastic cups. I introduced myself to the one with the most impressive stubble. ‘Oh, you’re the relationships expert, aren’t you?’ I duly accepted this description. ‘They want you up in the library.’

So off I went. I was immediately grabbed by the producer and told to stand by one of the bookshelves while the Glamorous Female Presenter introduced me. He gave me a slip of paper: ‘Here’s what we want you to say.’ It was along the lines, ‘I’ll be telling you everything you need to know on how to meet the man or woman of your dreams.’

And within moments a camera was pointing at me and the GFP began, ‘Tonight I want to introduce you to Nick Daws, our very own Doctor Lurrrve…’ I was so stunned by this, I completely forgot what I was meant to say and instead muttered something like, ‘Hey, there.’ ‘That’ll do,’ the producer said, and off we marched to the next location…

To cut a long story short, instead of the cosy studio discussion I had envisaged, the show in question was a manically paced, ‘zany’ affair. After the library, we invaded a workshop, where the only female student was asked embarrassing questions about whether she fancied any of the men there, and I was asked to pontificate on the attractions (or not) of evening classes for those in search of a mate.

Eventually I got a chance to sit down and the GFP asked me a few more serious questions about the dating game. I answered as best I could, and then suddenly the shoot was over. ‘Thanks, mate,’ one of the techs said as they were leaving. ‘That was good TV.’

It was half-past six and I was left on my own as the crew bundled into their van and headed off to the local pizza house. I realized as they drove off that, in all the frantic excitement, I had completely forgotten to mention my book….

So that was my introduction to the crazy world of television. Here are a few things I learned from it. I pass them on in case any of you find yourselves in the position I was…

* Find out as much as you can beforehand about the show you are appearing on. Don’t trust your publisher to tell you the whole story!

* If it’s a regular show, try to watch it yourself a few times to get a feel for the style and approach.

* If it’s not in your area, ask a friend or relative who does live there to watch and report back (and preferably send you a recording). Nowadays, you may be able to check it out on the Internet as well.

* Remember that the producer and interviewer will have their own agenda and ‘angle’ they want to pursue. Try to find out in advance what this is. If you’re not happy about this, then say so.

* Have your own goal or target as well. If you’re going to promote your book, DON’T forget to mention it! Be sure to take a copy with you, and if at all possible show it to the viewers.

* If you have a good anecdote to impart, tell the researcher beforehand. There is every chance it will be passed on to the interviewer, who will take the opportunity to ask you about it.

* And finally, don’t take any of it too seriously. Try to relax and be yourself. TV is entertainment – it’s not a matter of life or death.

So those are some of the lessons I learned from my first TV appearance – I’m glad to say others I’ve done subsequently have been a little more successful. But what about YOU? If you’ve been on TV or radio to discuss your work, I’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips you’d like to share. Please leave your comment below as usual.

Photo Credit: CC BY-NC by Roo Reynolds

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Kindle Instant Previews

Let Readers Preview Your Kindle Book on Your Website

Amazon have just introduced a new feature for Kindle authors named Kindle instant previews. It allows you to post a preview of your Kindle ebook on your blog or website.

Here is an example with my Kindle ebook about plotting…

And here’s another example with my sci-fi novella The Festival on Lyris Five

You can read step-by-step instructions for using Kindle instant previews on this page of the Amazon.com website. Basically, you have to navigate to your ebook’s sales page on Amazon.com (not Amazon UK), click on the “Embed” link next to the other sharing options, and then either copy the special link provided or embed the HTML (which is what I have done above).

A plus point is that once you have clicked on the “Embed” link, you have the option to include your Amazon Associates (affiliate) code if you wish. One think you can’t do, however, is use a geo-targeted link such as those provided by Geni.us (formerly GeoRiot) or BookLinker.

Kindle instant previews are undoubtedly a great feature to promote your Kindle ebooks, however – and you could also use them to promote other authors’ ebooks as an affiliate.

If you have any comments or questions about Kindle instant previews, as ever, please do post them below. Feel free also to post links to your own blog posts using Kindle instant previews if you like.

  • If you are new to writing Kindle ebooks, or looking to make the most of this massive potential market for your work, I highly recommend Geoff Shaw’s Kindling, still the most comprehensive guide to writing both fiction and nonfiction for Kindle. Click through here for my full blog review.
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screenwriting

Free Online Screenwriting Course

If you’re interested in screenwriting, you may like to know about a free online Introduction to Screenwriting course that starts next month.

It’s being run by the University of East Anglia, under the auspices of FutureLearn. Details from the website are copied below…

The course is a must for anyone new to scriptwriting and for more experienced writers who wish to raise their scriptwriting to a professional level. It will establish a common vocabulary for approaching the screenplay and form the basis for upcoming courses in dramatic adaptation, the crime screenplay, and other genres and skills.

What and how will I learn?

You’ll learn from a mixture of basic theory, script analysis and practical exercises. We will explore key principles as they’re expressed in great films, then immediately apply these concepts. Videos, articles and discussion steps will offer you the opportunity to learn and engage with other learners on key concepts and ideas.

By the end of the course, you will understand the key concepts necessary to write an effective screenplay and be fluent in the language used to discuss the form.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/screenwriting

The course is free to join and starts on 29 February 2016. It lasts two weeks and involves a commitment of three hours a week. The course is open to anyone in the world.

For more information, and to sign up, visit the Futurelearn web page for the course. You might also like to check out the other free online courses currently available from Futurelearn here.

Good luck, and see you in Hollywood!

 

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Taming the Dragon

Taming the Dragon Review

Taming the Dragon is the latest product for writers to be released by the prolific Amy Harrop.

Taming the Dragon is a guide for content writers on how they can boost their productivity when creating articles, ebooks, blog posts, and so on. It’s just been launched at a low offer price of $18 (about 12 UKP), and will be available at this price for a limited time only.

Amy was kind enough to allow me pre-launch reviewer access to Taming the Dragon, so here’s what I found…

Like many of Amy’s products, Taming the Dragon is accessed via a password-protected WordPress site (so don’t lose your log-in details!). This has the advantage that that you can access it from any computer with an internet connection, and it can also be easily updated and expanded.

The main course content for Taming the Dragon takes the form of a 62-page PDF. This includes plenty of links to additional resources. Some of these are provided by Amy herself, but most are on external websites.

As you might expect from this experienced author, the PDF is well written and presented. The table of contents at the front has active links, a feature which is always much appreciated. The text is interspersed with graphics and screen-capture illustrations where appropriate.

I hope I’m not giving away too much by revealing that Taming the Dragon is all about boosting your productivity by using speech recognition (SR) software. The Dragon in the title is actually Dragon Naturally Speaking. This is the market-leading SR program, and the one that Amy recommends herself.

The manual discusses how to make the most of SR software, whether for creating fiction or nonfiction, and also for editing and general email and computer tasks. Amy is clearly a big fan of SR, and she reveals various tips and techniques she has used personally to make herself so productive. The main emphasis is on using Dragon Naturally Speaking, but other SR tools (including some free ones) are also discussed.

In addition to the main manual, there are modules devoted specifically to fiction writing and nonfiction writing. These include training videos and other resources.

There is also a module on using “content accelerators”. These are basically brief outlines of articles you could write on a wide range of subjects, from dating to weight loss, affiliate marketing to juicing. The content accelerators are available to download separately in compressed Zip files, with the content in both Word and Mac OS X formats.

Finally, there is a downloadable 32-page PDF guide to content research for online content creators. This sets out a range of online research tools and techniques you can use, including keyword research, Google Trends, spying on your competitors, Evernote, and so forth.

Overall, I thought Taming the Dragon was another high-quality product from Amy Harrop. It will give you insights into how you can use speech recognition software to greatly boost your productivity, and the “content accelerators” may be useful if you need ideas/outlines for content you could produce in double-quick time. If you run a dating website, for example, there are some good ideas for articles about dating you could produce quickly (using speech recognition software, of course!).

As ever, if you have any comments or queries about Taming the Dragon, please do post them below.

UPDATE: Just heard that the price of Taming the Dragon will be going up on Monday 25 January. Order now to get it at the launch offer price!

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2016!

Just wanted to wish every reader of Entrepreneur Writer a happy, creative and prosperous 2016!

I hope this is the year when you achieve, or at least start to achieve, all your writing ambitions.

I’m looking forward to sharing more writing tips, advice, resources, market information and more with you in the year ahead. So if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe via the box in the right-hand column to ensure that you never miss a post!

Watch out, also, for a guest posting contest on EW which will be free to enter, with cash prizes for the winners.

Don’t forget, too, to follow me on Twitter. I regularly use this to share details of useful websites and resources that I don’t always have time to post about here.

And if you really want to stay connected, you can also sign up to follow me on my official Facebook Page and Google Plus.

Once again, I wish you a very happy and creative new year!

Photo Credit: CC BY-NC by James Marvin Phelps

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