If you’re a UK author registered for PLR, you can now check your earnings for 2015/16 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on Statements.
This year (covering July 2015 to June 2016) they are paying 7.82 pence per library loan, a slight increase on last year. Payment will be made between 13 and 22 February 2017, 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. I was pleased to see that, rather to my surprise, my payment has gone up this year. This is despite the fact that library lending generally is down due to the inexorable rise of the internet and cutbacks in the public library service.
My most borrowed books, Advertising for the Small Business and Start Your Own Home-Based Business, were published quite a few years ago and are undoubtedly out of date now, but they were still borrowed over 1000 times between them. By contrast, almost nobody is borrowing my Living and Working in books (e.g. Living and Working in Germany), perhaps because new editions of these books by other authors are now available. Or maybe it means that these days people are more interested in starting small businesses than going to work abroad!
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.
If you have any comments or questions about this post, or PLR in general, please do post them below.