Scandalands (maybe) No 1 – but was it worth it?

The low-down on “Vile Kyle” has proved to be good reading material, reports  His new biography, with its wonderfully pun-y title of Scandalands, has apparently hit the top of the non-fiction bestsellers’ list after just a week on the shelves.

Written by his former producer Bruno Bouchet, the book reportedly covers “everything from his wild sex parties to low self-esteem” and has sold over two thousand copies since its release on October 23rd, “making it No.1 on the Australian non-fiction list.”

I‘m a bit curious as to what bestseller’s list they are talking about as the Neilsen Bookscan has the recently released Guinness Book of Records in the no 1 spot and the article doesn’t mention what list they are referring too. The only quote from the bookselling end is an unnamed publishing source stating, “It’s a really good result” which could be a quote about anything from Scandalands‘s bestseller status to getting through reading it without hurling it at a wall.

(I’m also unconvinced that anything with a Sandilands stamp of approval fits in the category of non-fiction, but you could make the same argument for most authorised biographies, and plenty of the non-authorised ones too.)

The biography of the self-described “most hated man in Australia” (even when it comes to coming last, it appears that Kyle Sandilands thinks he has to come first) sold 2,518 copies since it was released, which was reportedly enough to put him in at number one.

Which seems to be a surprisingly reasonable number for a bestseller. So, if you fancy being a bestselling author, does this mean that all you have to do is pen a tell-all memoir guaranteed to peeve everyone you’ve ever met, so you can afford a solid-gold yacht from the advance? All the better to live on before the book comes out, when you’ll be able to sail away from your former friends.

Sadly, almost definitely not. Don’t pick up your pen and get scribbling salaciously ala Sandialands because, as a recent piece in Crikey  explains, you’ll be lucky to cover the cost of the lawyer’s fees with your advance.

Most fiction authors receive $1000 or $2000 in advance for their books if published by smaller publishers, and then 8-10% of physical book sales after you have “earned out” that advance. …

“There are some [Australian] authors that get over a million dollars,” Ben Ball, publisher at Penguin Australia, told Crikey. ”If you look at the top-selling authors from last year in this country — Matthew Reilly, Di Morrissey — they would get very healthy advances.”

But for the less famous, that sum is likely to be considerably smaller. Non-fiction books normally gain a bigger advance than fiction , but it’s still not in the private yacht territory. Fiona Inglis, managing director of literary agency Curtis Brown, explains in the same Crikey article: “I don’t think any publisher would pay a million bucks unless someone had sales of 250,00 copies every time they put pen to paper,” she said, calling a $100,000 advance “very healthy” for well-known Aussie writers.

Perhaps losing friends and alienating your way to the top of the bestsellers’ list isn’t worth the money your will get. Unless, like Kyle, you done it already.