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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Writing – and readership

Most authors write to be read. The financial consideration is important, naturally, but it is rarely the main impetus. We write because we cannot not write.

So the transformation over the last decade or so has to be welcomed, whereby readers can post reviews on the Internet – whether that’s in a blog or on Amazon and the other online book sites. Considered feedback is always welcome. We’re trying to entertain – following in a long line of storytellers stretching back to that distant age in caves when the social media was verbal and illustrations were paintings on rock.

The other helpful feedback tool for the author has been around for twenty-five years – the PLR. Last year’s (July 2013-June 2014) Public Lending Rights statements have just been issued, and they make interesting reading.

Of all 20 of my books registered with PLR, only 5 titles show readers. This is because the rest are not supplied to or obtained by British libraries. The five titles reflect the hardback and the large print editions - two of each, separately registered.

Yet those 5 have clocked up almost 8,000 readers among them. That’s good to know: because that’s a minimum readership figure, based on a sample of libraries, not all of them, in UK.

These titles are all westerns (because Robert Hale has a high representation of books in public libraries):

Death at Bethesda Falls (2007) – 1,300+

Last Chance Saloon (2008) – 1,500+

The $300 Man (2009) – 1,600+

Blind Justice at Wedlock (2011) – 1,600+

Old Guns (2012) – 1,700+

My latest western The Magnificent Mendozas (2014) was published and registered after the cut-off date of June 2014, so won’t appear on a statement until January 2016.

This proves that there is a readership for westerns out there, no matter what the naysayers might pontificate.
The British Library has taken on the administration of PLR. They collect loans data from a changing sample of UK public library authorities. This year’s payments are based on loans data collected from 44 library authorities across the UK during the year July 2013 – June 2014.
The maximum earnings for any author amount to £6,600; 190 registered authors were paid this for 2013/2014. Interestingly, there were 22,053 authors who received PLR payment and 16,996 who were paid nil or their loans were below the minimum threshold (i.e. loans didn’t amount to £1 or more).
Compared to last year’s figures, there are about 300 less recipients of PLR this year; and about 1,200 more authors who fell into the nil bracket. It is not clear whether or not that’s due to a fall in library readership or the choice of libraries in the sample or some other factor, such as more authors are going independent so aren’t represented in local libraries.

So, the moral for authors is, register your book with PLR.

 If you hanker after writing a western - or any genre fiction novel, come to that - you might like to have a look at Write a Western in 30 Days, which reviewers have said is useful for all genre writers, not only those who write westerns!
Amazon UK paperback here
Amazon UK e-book here
Amazon COM paperback here
Amazon COM e-book here


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