Tag Archives: author

of children’s books, generally speaking

Big Library Love


Farnham Library's new extension.

Farnham Library’s new extension.

PLR time!

PLR stands for many things. Potato Liberation Regiment. Polyunsaturated Lemon Rinds. For authors, it means angel music  from the clouds, known more specifically as Public Lending Right.

I knew nothing about PLR before I became an author. Then I heard the whispers.

‘With PLR, you earn approximately 5p every time someone borrows one of your books from a library. Last year I earned enough to buy a Caribbean island*!’

Frankly disbelieving, I settled down to debating percentage splits with my illustrators. I filled in some forms. I waited. And in February of that first year I stared at my bank balance with incredulity.

Here are some statistics to send you running half-crazed into the street screaming and rending your beards.

My borrowed books stand as tall as THIS.

My borrowed books stand as tall as the Sneeuberg.          (Bless you.)

Based on data from 45 library authorities, 22372 writers, illustrators, photographers, ghost writers, editors, translators and adapters will receive anything from £1 to £6600 this year. 200 people (1.3% of the whole) earn the maximum amount. If you make more than £6600, the extra money goes back into the system to pay everyone else. 

77 books of mine were borrowed 202,663 times. Assuming each book is 20cm long, a row of them would stretch for 25 miles. I could line the whole A31 from Farnham to Winchester. If each book is approximately 1cm thick, I could stack them on top of each other to a  height of 2026 metres, matching the snowy apex of the Sneeuberg in South Africa.

This is not me. This is better than the one of me.

This is not me. This is better than the one of me.

And PLR is so fabulously levelling. Once a year, puny authors like me can be in the same earning bracket as the leviathans. ‘I earned the same as that JK Rowling last year, yeah…’  It’s a massive part of the average author’s annual income, which can be terrifyingly sporadic. And it doesn’t cost you a THING. 

So I say this to you. All of you.


You pay for my children’s shoes, my annual heating bills, that blackmailer who regularly threatens to post photographs of me with a horrifying teen mullet. I  love you for it and will buy you a coffee next time we meet!

*sandbank of the small variety


What Makes a Good Writer?


I am thinking of offering my services to freelance writer websites in order to earn more money. A quick sweep of suitable employers was exciting. I particularly liked the look of a website called Prospect Solution, because in addition to requesting my ‘resume’  (which instantly conjures a bowl of clear soup with a CV floating in it) they asked the following question.

What makes a good writer? Answer in 150 words. 

OK. I’ll have a go. How hard can it be to summarise the complexities, the delicate tracery of words on paper, the sweat and the tea breaks and the disgusting fluffy bits in the keyboard that one can only ever remove with an unfolded paperclip? Firstly, please note the salient advice to the left of this paragraph. Then we shall proceed.


On no account let this author anywhere near your ocular nerve

A good writer catches your eye, preferably without damaging it. If they can then replace it in the socket with a minimum level of fuss, so much the better. Sadly, most writers don’t find themselves in many ophthalmological emergencies, except when spelling ‘ophthalmological’. They must be sure of their facts and never skimp on their research. Imagine, for example, that ophthalmology had nothing at all to do with eye surgery. Then the writer in question would have dug herself an enormous hole and impressed no one, least of all the head gardener. A good writer must inform (how much did you know about ophthalmology before reading this?); amuse (riffing on the oddities of the English language is always good); possibly enrage (gardeners nationwide); cope with long and complex sentences recklessly littered with parentheses and semi-colons yet not lose their way (yup); and always engage the reader. How am I doing?

Well, THIS is embarrassing