INDUSTRY KNOWHOW Public Lending Right 2

In the first KnowHow about PLRHelen Liston explained how Public Lending Right means you can get money for loans of your book from public libraries. This week we look at who can get it and how it’s split between creators. 

Do you have to be a writer to claim Public Lending Right funds? 

No. PLR is available to you whether you’re an illustrator, photographer, writer or translator. Editors, compilers, abridgers, ghostwriters, revisers, adaptors and retellers are also entitled to a share (not that you’ll be using all at the same time - phew!) Even if you've been paid a flat fee and aren't entitled to any royalties on the book you can still get PLR. The rule is that if you’re named on the title page of the book, then you’re entitled to PLR. 

But how do we work out who gets what? 

This can range between 100% for a sole writer (whose name is the only one on the title page) to 12% for abridgers. If you’re a photographer or illustrator who’s been paid a flat fee for a cover you’ll also be entitled to a share of PLR, and illustrators of children’s books will clearly have to agree a fair split with the author. There’s a very useful table of recommended shares in the British Library leaflet here

Children Taking out Books means Income
Children taking out your books means
income for all kinds of creators
Credit: HrPix

How do we agree to split it? Will I need a lawyer!? 

No! You and other contributors can make your agreement in writing if you like, but verbal agreements are okay too. 

What if another contributor doesn’t want to claim, or has deceased? Can I make a claim on my own? 

Yes, you can still make a claim, but only for your share of the work. 

Anything else we should bear in mind? 

Well, clearly the split should reflect the extent of the contribution to the work as a whole. But don’t get too nitpicky - only whole numbers are allowed! 

If you think you’re entitled to PLR in any shape or form and would like to know more, look here for comprehensive information and FAQs. 


Helen Liston is Words & Pictures' KnowHow editor. If you have any suggestions for future KnowHow posts, you can contact Helen at


  1. This is great! I'd add that although PLR is only for titles released in the UK and in countries with reciprocal PLR type schemes, the system sometimes lets you register overseas published English language books, but you won't earn any PLR off them unless they are distributed here and loaned from UK libraries. Many overseas contributors cannot claim for PLR, but you can't claim for their share. Also, remember to register your paperback editions as well as Hardcover - if it has a different ISBN, it's a different book :)

  2. Also, contributors (illustrators, translaters etc) can only claim for a share if their name is printed on the title page of the book - which usually means illustrators can't claim for cover illustration only books. I found this much to my discomfort early on when a publisher only credited me in the publisher index note, not on the title page, despite 90 illustrations - not a bean could I claim!

    1. But if no one is named on the title page, and your name appears elsewhere, you might be able to claim. I had claims on licensed character books accepted where there is no author/illustrator named, so it's worth asking

    2. Words & Pictures26 May 2018 at 15:11

      That's useful to know. Thanks.

    3. Always check if your name is on the title page before the book is published. Many book editors have no idea that this is important for PLR and so will credit contributors other than the primary author (and sometimes even the author) on the imprint page (the page following the title page where all the publishing info is).

  3. Also register for Irish PLR and for ALCS (payments for work being photocopied)

    1. YOu'd be amazed how much stuff gets photocopied...


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