This year, 22,108 writers are receiving a PLR payment next month. I’m one of them.
I always find PLR statements fascinating documents because, although it’s just a snapshot from a handful of libraries across the UK, they reveal interesting information about which of your books were most popular.
Take my bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, for example. Royalty statement figures show that lifetime sales now stand at over 267,000 copies. (I have to pinch myself every time I see that figure.) So how many times was it borrowed from UK libraries between 1st July 2016 and 30th June 2017 (the accounting period these statements cover)? None. Not. One. Single. Copy.
Admittedly, this is only based on a sample of libraries, because the PLR data collection system doesn’t collect data from every library. (They change the ‘pool’ of libraries each year.) But in those libraries surveyed, that particular book wasn’t borrowed.
For me, my PLR-earning books are the ones I always envisaged would be good library books: the reference ones.
For the last five years, my most borrowed book has been The Positively Productive Writer . (And many thanks to @ValFraserAuthor who recently tweeted how useful she’d found it!)
Next on my PLR statement league table is Best Walks in the Welsh Borders – my guide of great walks people can undertake when exploring the English/Welsh Border.
Third on my list of usual suspects was Fundraising For A Community Project £10.99 – advice on how to fill out grant application forms for community groups. (Until The Positively Productive Writer was published in 2012, this was my most borrowed book.)
And while there were others of my books also on my statement, it is always heartening to see my one and only children’s book, Puppytalk - 50 Ways To Make Friends With Your Puppy appear on there. It’s great to know that children are still going into libraries (when they can find one that is open).
While 22,108 writers are getting a payout this time, there are 20,953 writers with books registered for PLR that aren’t getting a penny: either because their books weren’t borrowed, or because their borrowings brought them below the £1 minimum payment threshold.
And that’s another reason why the sample libraries are changed on a regular basis. Local history books often do well in the years when the sample libraries cover their area. Those books are always being borrowed – it’s just that those borrowings are only recorded for PLR purposes when the library is included in the sampling authority area.
So whenever you have book published, even if it is self-published (and has an ISBN – a book needs an ISBN for PLR monitoring purposes) always register it for PLR. It’s free. (And register it with the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society too). Because you never know what might happen in the future.
PLR stands for Public Lending Right, but personally I think is should stand for People Love Reading. And while they love reading, they’ll continue borrowing books from libraries. One day, one of those books could be yours.