Review: The Accidental Bestseller

Smart, well written, engaging

The Accidental Bestseller, written by Wendy Wax, is a story of friendship, careers, life challenges and survival. Four women meet a decade before the books opening page, at a writer’s conference and become close friends for years to come. Kendall is under a tight deadline, her marriage is falling apart and she’s not sure how she will make it through the day much less write. Enter three wonderful friends, willing to do just about anything to support her. They end up writing a bestselling novel, living through some ethical inquiries and find a way to succeed in live.

I really enjoyed that all four characters had different backgrounds, successes and economic status. I hope this is true for all of us, that we do not define our friends but monetary measures. There are moments in this book that make me want to ask, is this really how the publishing business works or is this fiction? If you are looking for a smart book with some knowledge of the publishing industry woven into the storyline you will enjoy The Accidental Bestseller.

A conversation with Wendy Wax
Tell us a little about yourself: I was a journalism/broadcast major in college and after graduating I worked in radio, television and film both in front of and behind the camera. I worked for the Tampa PBS affiliate, on a number of feature films, and as a voice over and on camera talent for commercial and corporate projects. The most memorable of these was my stint as the host of a live radio call-in show on WDAE Radio called, Desperate & Dateless—which I was at the time!

Do you write daily? Yes. I’m at my best first thing in the morning, so once my sons leave for school I sit down and get started. This is not to say I don’t dawdle over a couple cups of coffee and check just a few emails first, but the morning is my most creative time. Later in the day there are after school activities and homework and all that, which I like to be available for. In the evenings I generally read chapters I might be critiquing and handle business emails and that sort of thing.

What was it like getting your first novel published? In 1994 I was a stay-at-home mom with a newborn and a two-year-old and was watching more Barney the Purple Dinosaur and Thomas the Tank Engine than is good for a person.

I was looking for a creative outlet and decided to try my hand at writing fiction. Looking back, I wonder that being a full time mother, which is definitely the hardest job I’ve ever had, and the fact that I knew nothing about writing fiction, didn’t deter me. (I chalk this up to post pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep!)

It took me three years to complete that first novel, find an agent, and sell it. (This seemed like an eternity at the time; it was only after being in publishing for a while that I discovered how slowly things can move!) LOVE TALK, which drew on my experiences as host of Desperate & Dateless, came out in 1997. (I’ve joked that it was almost completely autobiographical except for the really great sex!)

Each book after that also took years. It wasn’t until my youngest started school full time, that I became more productive.

In the intervening years, I’ve been published by Kensington, Bantam and now, Berkley. The Accidental Bestseller is my seventh novel.

In hindsight, getting published was not the hardest part for me although it seemed it at the time; what came afterward was. So many of us believe that getting our first book published is the final hurdle, the ‘end’ of the road, but as The Accidental Bestseller illustrates, that first sale is just the first step in what can be a long and tumultuous journey.
What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I think they’re very cool, though I still like the feel of a book in my hands. I have just figured out how to download the Kindle application onto my iPhone and was surprised at how easy the screen is to read. I also love the fact that the next time you ‘open’ the book it takes you right to where you left off!
What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to realize that creating and building a writing career is rarely fast or easy. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Every so often a writer appears on the scene and shoots to the top of the bestseller lists and becomes a fixture there, but the vast majority of writers spend years honing their craft, writing book after book, and, sometimes, moving from agent to agent and publisher to publisher trying to reach the widest possible audience in the best possible way.

James Baldwin put it really well when he said, “Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck—but most of all, endurance.”

What are you reading now? The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone. It’s the first of his books I’ve read, and I’m really enjoying it.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: Gone with the Wind is my favorite book of all time. I’ve joked that I went to the University of Georgia because I’d read it one-too-many times, and I’m not sure it’s actually a joke! I have somewhat eclectic taste and there are a lot of books I’ve really enjoyed, but if forced to choose, I think I’d add Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen to the list.

Just for fun
Favorite Season: Fall –before we moved to Atlanta from Florida twelve years ago, I’d never experienced one!

Morning or night: Morning!

Favorite ice cream flavor: Anything with chocolate in it. Make that lot’s of chocolate!

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go: I’d stop off in Italy because I haven’t been there in so long and then I’d go to Greece, because I’ve always wanted to go there and never have.

Type: Fiction, 419 pages, Trade paperback


Once upon a time four aspiring authors met at their very first writers' conference. Ten years later they're still friends, survivors of the ultra-competitive New York publishing world. Mallory St. James is a workaholic whose bestsellers support a lavish lifestyle. Tanya Mason is a single mother juggling two jobs, two kids, and too many deadlines. Faye Truett is the wife of a famous televangelist and the author of inspirational romances: no one would ever guess her explosive secret. Kendall Aims's once-promising career is on the skids—and so is her marriage. Her sales are dismal, her new editor detests her work—and her husband is cheating. Barely able to think, let alone meet her final deadline, Kendall holes up in a mountain cabin to confront a blank page and a blanker future. But her friends won't let her face this trial alone. Together they collaborate on a novel using their own lives as fodder, assuming no one will ever discover the truth behind their words.

No one is more surprised than they are when the book becomes a runaway bestseller. But with success comes scrutiny and these four best friends suddenly realize how little they've truly known each other.


“A terrific story brimming with wit, warmth, and good humor. I loved it!” – Jane Porter, author of Mrs. Perfect

“A wry, revealing tell-all about friendship and surviving the world of publishing.” – Haywood Smith, NY Times Bestselling author