Oh, what a landmark moment this is. Firsts are always wonderful, of course – pressing ‘publish’ for the first time, seeing your book in print for the first time, hitting #1, getting your first ‘fan’ email from a happy reader. And now another first – an actual payment from PLR. Check out the screenshot below:

PLR

You’re scratching your head now, right? You’re either thinking ‘What the hell is PLR?’ or you’re thinking ‘Why is she getting so excited about a payment of two pounds and six pence?” Or possibly both ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, in case you don’t know already, here’s a brief explanation of PLR from the website:

Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for authors to receive payment for the loans of their books by public libraries.

Under the PLR system in the UK, payment is made from government funds to authors, illustrators and other contributors whose books are borrowed from public libraries.ย  Payments are made annually on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public libraries in the UK …ย To qualify for payment, applicants must apply to register their books.

Over 22,000 writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries in the UK receive PLR payments each year.

All four of my published-in-print books are available in libraries – I know this because I made it happen by taking copies into my local library and making myself known to the acquisitions team at Shrewsbury. There are also copies of two titles in Milton Keynes libraries, because they are of local interest. (Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap are set there.) Interestingly, I also happen to know that copies of Can’t Live Without are regularly borrowed from Shrewsbury library – but take another look at the statement above. Copies of CLW borrowed = zero. How can this be?

Check out how the loans data is calculated:

For UK PLR, a representative sample of book loans, consisting of all issues from selected public libraries in the UK, is recorded. This is then multiplied in proportion to total library lending to produce for each book an estimate of its total annual loans throughout the country.

So, what this means is that PLR uses statistical sampling – they look at loans across certain libraries and then extrapolate the total as though this is representative of loans across all libraries. Which is fantastic … if your book is available in one of the sampled libraries.

And here are the libraries – the ‘hot’ libraries, if you like – for 2014/2015.

PLR sample libraries

I already knew that Murder at the Maples – my first Flora Lively mystery – was doing well in libraries. At least, I’d deduced this by the number of copies ordered in paperback each month (between 5 and 10), and that these books weren’t all going out to Amazon customers. I figured libraries were ordering them, and this fits with the target demographic of cosy mysteries – library readers love a good mystery. So I wasn’t surprised to see the figure of 31 loans, although I was delighted!

It means that libraries other than Shrewsbury are stocking this title, and it means that library members are borrowing the books regularly. To know how much this means to me I guess you’d need to know that I worked in libraries for years before publishing my first book, and to have my books on library shelves is wonderful to me. I did an author event at Whitchurch library in the summer for the release of Cupid’s Way, and it was great to talk to readers. One lady asked me when Murder at the Maples was coming out in large print because all her friends had read it and she was desperate to read it but could only read large print books. Those are the moments when you wish you had an agent to sell your large print rights because you just know that book would be a massive hit.

Proud author at Whitchurch library
Proud author at Whitchurch library

I imagine you’ve already figured out one of my goalsย for this coming year? That’s right – to target the sampling libraries and get copies of my books in as many of them as possible ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s give the final word to PLR, while I wait for that lovely landmark payment of ยฃ2.06 to drop into my bank account. It’s a start!

If you have contributed to a book which is lent out by public libraries in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and wish to apply to register for UK and Irish PLR schemes, How do I apply for PLR? will provide you with further information and guidance.

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