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Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope you like my new layout – it took hours to find something that I like but I think I’ve finally settled on this one. Do let me know what you think!

Today I’m going to give you a run-down of “PLR” – Public Lending Rights. This is a system that lets authors have a small royalty every time their book is borrowed from a public library. It’s a little similar to how musicians are paid each time their song is on the radio and it’s intended to compensate the creator for any loss of income they experience from having their work available for free.

The exact figures I’m listing here apply specifically for the UK, but PLR is available to authors in 53 countries, with more considering joining, so check online for the details where you live.

How to Register

In order to be paid for your lends, you first have to qualify for the program. The requirements are as follows;

  • You must be listed as the author on the title page
  • The book must have an ISBN (barcode number) so that they can track it
  • You have to live in the country where you are applying for PLR (usually – more on this later)

If you fit the bill, the next step is as easy as applying online.

How are Lends Measured?

There are over 4,000 libraries in the UK alone. Tracking every book that they lend would be a very expensive job, even if you only accounted for those already registered for PLR. So a sampling system is used to come up with a rough estimate for country-wide figures. A handful of libraries are chosen in different areas and they rotate every few years to keep things fair. Based on what they lend during the year, the PLR people calculate how much of each book was lent across the whole country. The sampling period runs for 12 months from the 1st of July to the 30th of June. A bit of a weird calendar!

How do Authors get Paid?

This is the juicy part. How do they figure out what to pay you, and what sort of cash can you earn? There isn’t a set commission per-lend. Instead, the government puts aside a certain amount of money to be divided between the authors depending on how many times their books were borrowed. This year, it is £6.9m ($11.5m).

But there is a catch. If your books have been lent out so few times that your commission comes to less than £1, they will not pay you anything. This is because it costs more than this to do the calculations, so it wouldn’t be worth it. And your income is capped at £6,000, which is to stop a handful of super-popular authors from soaking up all the money. Don’t let caps put you off, though. Last year only 22,000 authors were registered for PLR, which isn’t all that many compared to a total pay-out in the millions, so if you choose to register, you stand a fair chance of making some very healthy pocket-money on top of whatever else you might make from book sales.

Claiming from a Different Country

Normally, you would be required to live in the country where you claim PLR, but if your book is stocked in libraries away from your home country, there are ways to claim back some cash. This is easiest within the European Union, but with the right paperwork in hand, just about anything is possible. Last year, the UK PLR system paid around £137,000 to authors outside the country, so it’s worth looking into if you’re published overseas. All those royalties can really add up.

I hope that wasn’t too much of an information overload. I know that this can seem complicated at first glance, but if you take a little time to fill out the paperwork, you can make a respectable amount of money from PLR, so I highly recommend looking into it.

If you enjoyed this article, please click like/follow, and join me again next week when I will be writing a sequel to “3 Things that Kill a Novel”.