Last week, the British Library uploaded the PLR statements for authors to download. While it’s always nice to be paid for those times when your books are borrowed from a library, it’s also fascinating to see which books are being borrowed.

For those that don’t know, the PLR system doesn’t monitor book borrowing from every library in the country. Instead it selects a sample from a cross-section of libraries across the UK. For details of last year’s libraries click here.

I’ve published 12 books and self-published three. Now, I wouldn’t expect the self-published books to find their way into the library system (although I am aware of one of my self-published books finding its way into the American library service), and nor can libraries afford to buy every book that is published.

My most borrowed books are those that I would label as typical library reference books: and include:

Best Walks in the Welsh Borders – borrowed 3,488 times (published 2007)

Fundraising for a Community Project – borrowed 7,181 times (published 2007)

The Positively Productive Writer – borrowed 3,884 times (published 2012)

Clearly, an author’s PLR payments vary from year to year, as borrowings fluctuate (often as a result of the sample libraries changing regularly). And while the most famous of authors like James Paterson, MC Beaton, and Norah Roberts regularly appear in the most borrowed authors’ list (thus securing the maximum payouts permitted under the PLR system), PLR is important to every author, no matter how much, or little, they get.

To put it into some sort of perspective, all of my PLR payments for my most borrowed book (Fundraising For A Community Project) amount to 42% of the total income that book has generated for me. (The other 58% was royalties.) So just under half of my income from that book has been provided by PLR. If I hadn’t registered that book, I would have missed out on that income.

I’ve often heard authors say that it’s not worth registering for PLR, because you only get pence for every time your book is borrowed. But I say to those authors that the old adage of Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves is just as applicable to PLR payments. Each year’s payment may not look much on a statement, but over time it can grow into a considerable sum.

So if you’ve published a book (or even self-published one) register it with PLR. (You need to have an ISBN to register it.) It might not earn you a fortune, but over the years it may just make a useful financial contribution towards your writing business.

For information about why authors should register for PLR, watch the video in the link below:

Every Penny Counts

One thought on “Every Penny Counts

  • January 21, 2019 at 4:35 PM

    Thank you, Simon, for sharing that information. I didn’t realize that was so important.


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