Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey



My First Ever Public Lending Right Payment (and a bit about how they are calculated)

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:


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 😉

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.  Payments are made annually on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public libraries in the UK … 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 goals 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 🙂

Let’s give the final word to PLR, while I wait for that lovely landmark payment of £2.06 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.

Library Author Events – What I Learned

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to hold a book signing at Shrewsbury library. I was so excited about this – many readers know that when I worked in libraries in my twenties I longed to see my books on the shelves. So now not only do I have my books available for borrowing on the library shelves, there I was giving an actual real life signing!

Shrewsbury library is also a key location in Murder at the Maples, and the book is set in and around the town. I think it helps gain local attention if your book has a strong local link – this was something I couldn’t capitalize on with my first two novels as I had already moved away from Milton Keynes.

I arrived with no idea what to expect, pulling my trolley-bag (memories of being an air hostess here!) behind me. I took 14 books – this was a little bit optimistic 😉 The table was slap-bang in the middle of the library’s large reception area, which made me want to run screaming as soon as I saw it. I was expecting to be shoved in a corner somewhere, not right in the middle where no one could ignore me – much as they tried to!


Soon I’d set up my stall and was ready to start selling books and engaging with readers. A very lovely member of staff came over and bought a copy (thanks Caroline!), and then a really nice chap chatted with me for a while about writing and took home a bookmark. I looked at the clock. One hour and fifty minutes to go! Bring it on, I thought.

My next visitor was a nine year old girl whose mother dumped her in reception (‘Go and talk to that lady’). We chatted for a while, until her mum came back to collect her, and then I waited again. And waited. And waited.


Well, in the end I sold and signed 3 books, chatted to some potential readers and met fellow author Susan Davis who lives locally and is really, really lovely. Susan is also an editor and tutor for The Writers Workshop, and I was chuffed to bits to connect with her. So even though I didn’t sell tons of books, I was visible, I made a new friend, and I fulfilled a dream long held. Not bad for a day’s work.

Would I do it again? Honestly? If Shrewsbury library extend an invitation then I definitely would, because they have been so supportive and it’s a great, vibrant place to be. But I won’t be chasing down library events anywhere else. For that matter, I won’t be planning any events for a while, anywhere. I’m a bit worn out with them, in fact, and I think my time might be better spent marketing my books online – and (clears throat) writing some more books … 🙂

In other news – Today sees my great big face on not one but two brilliant blogs: I’m guesting over on Cathy Bramley’s blog as part of her ‘What It Takes To’ series, check that out here, and it’s also day 5 of my book tour and a review of Murder at the Maples will be appearing on Shelley’s Book Case very soon.

And here’s the rest of the tour!

great escape tour banner small MURDER AT THE MAPLES

Tomorrow – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book review and guest post
October 14 –  Queen of All She Reads review and guest post
October 15 – Chloe Gets A Clue exclusive interview
October 16 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading review and guest post
October 17 – Brooke Blogs review and exclusive interview
October 18 – StoreyBook Reviews review
October 20 – A Chick Who Reads review
October 21 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK review
October 22 – Dru’s Book Musings guest post as Flora Lively herself!

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