From time to time on this blog, I issue a reminder to all UK authors of at least one published book that they should register with the UK PLR Office.
For those who don't know, PLR (in this context anyway) stands for Public Lending Right. The UK PLR Office distributes money to UK authors based on the number of times their books have been borrowed from public libraries in Britain in the last year. This money is paid to authors as compensation for their presumed lost royalties on sales.
All UK authors are eligible for PLR (even if they don't currently live in Britain), but you do have to register with the UK PLR Office first. If you're a UK author with at least one published book to your name, therefore, you should sign up as soon as possible to get what is due to you, especially as payments cannot be backdated to previous years.
And I just discovered an additional reason to sign up with UK PLR now. As from April this year, they have also been providing registration services in conjunction with the Irish PLR scheme. This means that if you are registered for UK PLR, you can opt to "synchronize" your account with Irish PLR.
If you do this - and I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't - all books that you have registered for UK PLR will automatically be registered for the Irish scheme too. And if you have any more books published in future, you will only have to register them once on the UK PLR website and this will cover them for Irish PLR as well.
If you are already registered for Irish PLR, you should have received a letter in the last few weeks telling you how much you have earned for the year January to December 2011 (yes, it's a year in arrears). At the top of this you should see the heading IRISH PLR STATEMENT followed by your reference number (mine is 004DAW892).
If you now log in to the UK PLR website, you will be able to synchronize your accounts just by entering your Irish PLR number in the box provided. It really is as simple as that!
If you aren't already registered for PLR, you can now apply using the dual application form which will cover you for Irish PLR as well. You can also use these forms to register for Irish or UK PLR only if you wish.
Over the years I have made literally thousands of pounds from PLR payments; in the case of some books I have earned more from PLR than I have in publisher fees or royalties. So if you're a UK (or Irish) author, it is definitely worth taking the few minutes needed to register yourself and your book/s at the UK PLR site, especially as you will now receive Irish PLR payments as well. If you don't do this, you really are leaving money on the table!
Postscript for non-UK authors: Non-UK nationals cannot claim from the UK PLR Office, but many other countries (though not the USA) have schemes in place to compensate writers for library lending. For example, Australia has what appears to be quite a generous program, though payments are based on the estimated number of copies of an author's book in libraries, not total loans. For more information on PLR schemes worldwide, visit the PLR International website.