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!