Every year a wonderful organisation called the Public Lending Right sends registered authors a statement indicating how many times their books have been borrowed from British libraries in recent times. To compensate scribes for the lost sale, the PLR pays out 5.98 pence per loan [roughly 12 cents in American money]. If your total from your registered titles is less than one pound, it gets held over until the next year.
There's also a maximum payment threshold of £6600, to prevent the likes of J K Rowling and other immensely popular authors draining the PLR's coffers. In total 23,942 authors are getting payments next month for the most recent PLR period [July 2006-June 2007], with 242 scribes getting the maximum amount.
I’m a minnow in such matters, but thanks to a steadily growing backlist of books [26 and counting] my new statement is nearly double what I got this time last year. I’ll be sent a nice three-figure sum in February, thanks to two things – more people are borrowing my books from libraries, and I’m getting more books published.
The four novels I had published during the 1990s are now defunct in libraries, and my programme guide to The Sopranos is fast disappearing from shelves as well, six years on from publication. My hardcover history of iconic British comic 2000 AD, Thrill-Power Overload, was published just too late to make it into libraries.
But most of my tomes were borrowed at least 100 times according to the PLR and two title got taken out more than a thousand times each. My first Fiends novel tops the listings for a second year in succession, but the other two books in that series are rising to challenge it. Here's my top ten tomes for July 2006 - June 2007 (with previous year's placing in brackets):-
1. (1) Fiends of the Eastern Front: Operation Vampyr (published Oct 05)
2. (-) Fiends of the Eastern Front: The Blood Red Army (Apr 06)
3. (-) Fiends of the Eastern Front: Twilight of the Dead (Jul 06)
4. (8) Nikolai Dante: Honour Be Damned! (Mar 06)
5. (2) A Nightmare of Elm Street: Suffer the Children (May 05)
6. (3) Nikolai Dante: Imperial Black (Sep 05)
7. (9) Ripped From a Dream: The Nightmare on Elm Street Omnibus (Oct 06)
8. (-) I Am The Law: The Judge Dredd Omnibus (Oct 06)
9. (5) Nikolai Dante: The Strangelove Gambit (Jan 05)
10. (7) Doctor Who: Amorality Tale (Apr 02)
Bubbling under: The Complete Inspector Morse 2nd Edition (4th last year), Doctor Who: The Domino Effect (6th last year) and Fiends of the Eastern Front Omnibus (published Feb 07).
Star performer has to be my Fiends of the Eastern Front trilogy – it seems you can’t go wrong combining vampires and Nazis. I suspect the omnibus collection of all three novels will become a hardy perennial for a while, nearly cracking the top ten despite only being published in last few months of the PLR year. Hopefully Fiends of the Rising Sun will prove just as popular, it came out in July 2007.
A new, third edition of my Morse book is due out this month or next, so that should supplant the second and first editions, borrowed a total of 320 times in the period 06-07. Freddy Krueger has served me well in libraries [horror wins again], but the biggest surprise is repeat appearances by all three of my Nikolai Dante novels. None of them sold well, but they’ve proved popular at libraries with a total of more than 1500 borrowings – go figure.
Finally, thank you to everyone who borrowed one of my books from a library this past year, nearly 8000 of you. I hope you enjoyed the stories I had to tell. Support your local library, it’s a brilliant resource. And thanks to the PLR for finding all this out and disbursing all these funds. It's a nice post-Christmas bonus for me, but for some authors it's their major payday of the year. Long may it continue!