PLR - or Public Lending Right to give it its full title - is a right that enables authors to receive a payment from the Government on behalf of books they've written being borrowed from the libraries. The right was introduced in an attempt to recompense authors who were losing out on a royalty payment because several people were borrowing the same copy of a book from a library. If 10 people borrowed the same copy from the library, the author has missed out on 9 royalty sales (not 10, because the library buys the copy for their shelves, so the author gets that one!)
I've always advocated that article writers who have several pieces published on the same topic, should try to produce a book on this subject. Publishers are more likely to accept you as an expert, if magazines have published your articles on the same subject. (For those who have not been psychologically scarred by my video appearance on the Writers Bureau website where I talk about non-fiction book writing, click here ... if you dare.)
The British PLR system (many countries in the world have similar systems and the European Union has made it compulsory for all countries within its borders to have such a system - Ireland have just launched theirs) monitors which books are borrowed from a sample of libraries across the country. This 'sample' is reviewed every year.
In February 2010, authors will receive their PLR payments for the period of 1st July 2008 to 30th June 2009. Statements have just been issued and I find the statistics quite revealing.
My bestselling book - 100 Ways For A Dog To Train its Human - has sold over 210,000 copies in the shops, yet was only borrowed 54 times from libraries between 01/07/08 and 30/06/09.
One of my other books - Fundraising for a Community Project - tackles the dry and boring subject of how a community group can apply for grant funding. Since its publication in 2007, it has sold less than 500 copies in the shops. But between 01/07/08 and 30/06/09 it was borrowed from the libraries on 1,248 occasions.
So, if you've had some success with articles on a particular subject, but you don't think it would be a particularly successful book in the shops, don't let that put you off of writing the book. You may end up writing a really useful 'library' book. The benefit of PLR is that when the bookshops stop stocking your book, the libraries often keep hold of it, which means that your book continues generating income in the years ahead.
And once you've had a book published, you often get approached by magazines to write more articles, because as the author of a book on the subject, you're perceived to be an expert on the subject.