There are bad times in a writer’s life. Like the times you realise that less than 11 people in the UK have borrowed your books from libraries.
Like many sensible authors, I’ve signed up for the PLR scheme, by which means I get 9p per book borrowed in the UK. Sadly, they don’t pay out amounts of less than £1. You already know where this is going. I’m receiving nothing this year.
I love libraries. I believe in them – I’m employed in one and have had roles in a number of different libraries through my not-very-varied and not-at-all-illustrious working life – from security guard to cataloguer, I’ve seen a variety of libraries and loved them all. So it’s a personal thing that I should be falling down in the public arena.
There are good reasons for not being borrowed, of course. My book probably isn’t in most libraries – that’s the most obvious thing. I’m not prestige. I’m not the sort of author the casual reader will have heard of, certainly not to ask for. And this must be true of the majority of authors, especially those who have self-published.
All of which leads me to ask: what’s the point? Why do we put all this effort in if the rewards are so slight?
It’s worth emphasising that this isn’t about money, though that would have been a nice bonus. It’s about the feeling of being read and appreciated. The heartbreak is accentuated by seeing all the more successful authors on Twitter with what I know to be more readers and more acclaim (and don’t get me started on Awards Season).
I know, I know, it’s wrong to compare – and I know that there are people looking up to me as if I’ve got it made; people who see me as occupying the next rung on the ladder. I’m not unsuccessful. I have a novel published and another on the way. What do I want, a medal?
I guess I’d like to be read. I’d like to be appreciated. I’d like to think my career is moving forwards.
[Note on the forthcoming novel: it’s a sequel, and sequels never sell as well as the first novel. True fact. So I’m not placing that much hope in it for career-development purposes.]
So the news about my lack of library issues has hit me pretty hard. Just… what’s the point of being a bottom-of-the-barrel author? No money, no respect, no sunlit uplands for me.
But I will keep going. I will keep writing and keep struggling to make a career as a writer. It’s still what I dream of. I still believe in my abilities in writing and in storytelling. I will go on. I must endure.
Besides, lack of library loans just means that everyone has already bought my book, right?