Why writers’ festivals are good for you

The following article appeared in WQ, Christmas Edition, 2014. Used with permission.

Don’t Miss out on PLR and ELR

Jacque Duffy

Jacque Duffy

I’m Not Worthy.

One of the earliest writers’ festivals I ever attended was WriteFest in Bundaberg. I left my family in our post-Cyclone Larry shed and caught the train from Innisfail. (Twenty hours, and as any writer worth their salt will tell you, a journey on the Sunlander is a hot bed of story ideas.) Anyway, this isn’t about the train journey, or really about WriteFest; it is about listening to your peers – even if you have placed those peers on pedestals and you don’t recognise them as actual peers.

Back then, I was a five-time self-published – independently published, if you please – author/illustrator and I didn’t know anyone attending the festival. I was there to learn more about the craft and meet like-minded people. I hoped they didn’t ask me too many questions about my writing. I was fully aware of the stigma attached to us ‘selfies’ and quietly felt like the ugly duckling surrounded by some quite beautiful well-known/ famous/I worship the ground you walk on ‘real authors’ with contracts. These ‘real authors’ were actually quite human, conversed like real people and certainly made me feel welcome. In fact, they made me feel like one of them. Generosity must be one of the criteria by which the tutors at WriteFest are selected.

After managing to sidestep most questions about my writing, a zinger came my way

Had I registered my books for PLR and ELR? I had no idea what PLR and ELR were, let alone registered for them. The ‘writing gods’ explained to me PLR was public lending rights and ELR education lending rights. Australian authors could register with the Federal Government’s Lending Rights department to receive ‘missed royalties’ for books that, rather than being sold, were loaned through the public library and education systems.

I thought, That wouldn’t include me, I’m self-published.

YES, it does.

I thought, I’m not like these writers; they’re professional, and I’m not.

YES, I was (surprise, surprise).

I thought I wouldn’t have enough books out there to warrant registering.

YES, I did.

Those published (and registered) authors who had me hanging off their words all weekend told me to go straight home and register.

Did I register as they suggested? NO, I didn’t. Why would I? I wasn’t in their league.

The following year, after another fascinating train journey, I was once again at WriteFest, and once again the subject of PLR and ELR came up. Had I followed advice and received a nice little package from the PLR/ELR people? Well, no, I hadn’t registered. I didn’t want the ‘writing gods’ discovering I was an imposter; I enjoyed playing with the big kids. Evasive manoeuvre 101: change of subject.

Did I go home and register this time? No, I didn’t.


Because I wasn’t in the same ball park as these talented people.

OK. You get the picture. I am a slow learner. After a third WriteFest and PLR/ELR reminder, I finally registered myself AND all of my books. I mean, who would ever find out that my registration had been rejected or something equally as embarrassing? (They don’t reject registration, by the way.)

Do you have any idea what happened next?

You’re right.

I received a healthy little sum of money at the end of the following financial year. Actually, because I was self-published (and also registered as the publisher), I received two healthy little sums of money. If I had followed advice, if I had listened to my peers, I could have taken my family on a nice holiday.

Now, as your peer I want you to listen to me.

Register yourself and your books for PLR and ELR.

The closing date for the next round is 31 March 2015, for titles published in 2010-14. * (see below)

Tick the boxes to discover if you are eligible:

  • Authors, editors, illustrators, translators and compilers
  • Australian citizens, wherever they reside
  • Non-citizens who normally reside in Australia (eligibility ceases if normal residency in Australia ceases)
  • Creator must also be entitled to receive royalties from the sale of their book
  •  Books written by Australian creators may be eligible even if those books have not been published in Australia
  • Digital-only published books are not eligible.

Don’t miss that closing date: you have NO EXCUSES. I used them all up ages ago.


Lending Rights, arts.gov.au/literature/lending_rightsLogo2015

WriteFest is on again in Bundaberg on 16 May. bundywriters.com

Queensland writer Jacque Duffy has written and illustrated a series of seven books for children, bought by the Queensland Government for use in schools and libraries. Her picture book The Bear Said Please was released by Wombat Books this year and is used in the National Curriculum Grammar Strategies. www.jacquesartandbooks.com www.qwc.asn.au

* In 2011 the scheme changed slightly.

It is now the case that: Titles must be claimed within five years of the date of publication

Books may only be claimed up to five years (60 months) from the date of publication of the first edition and any subsequent edition. Therefore claims submitted for the 2014–15 program must be published between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2013.

In order to remain eligible as a publisher: at least one new work or revised edition (has to have been published) in the preceding three-year period

Current information available here.