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.
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.
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.
KEEP SUPPORTING YOUR LIBRARIES, FRIENDS!
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