The Waxman Leavell Literary Agency (WLLA) was founded by literary agents Scott Waxman and Byrd Leavell. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, the agency has represented dozens of New York Times bestsellers from novelists, journalists, internet personalities and celebrities. Scott Waxman began his career at HarperCollins in 1990 as an editor and later opened the Waxman Literary Agency in 1997 before co-founding WLLA in 2012. Byrd Leavell began his career at the literary agency Carlisle & Company which later merged to became Inkwell Management and worked as an agent at the Waxman Literary Agency for eight years before co-founding WLLA.
WLLA is a development-oriented firm, specializing in representing nonfiction and fiction authors with powerful stories. Our strength lies in our ability to match authors with ideas and to connect them with the best possible publisher for their book. Our clients are accomplished journalists, experts in their fields, celebrities and first time writers with an exceptional story or message to share. We have been associated with dozens of bestsellers and award winning projects, and look forward to continuing to help bring exciting and successful new voices to American and international markets.
"The great thing about being an agent is that it never gets boring. Each book allows you to enter a new world. Also, we like to continue to challenge ourselves by working with different kinds of authors.
I am looking for relevant, original and well written non-fiction. I like history, sports, biography, health and science, adventure, business, and inspirational stories and have been involved with many bestsellers in these categories. I am not taking on any fiction at this time. Authors who have compelling untold stories that are well researched and engagingly written should contact me."
"My entire career as an agent is committed to one driving focus: working with great clients to create books that generate sales, lots of them. It boils down to a very simple approach: signing talented, driven writers, working with them to create a book that people are actually going to want read, sending that submission to the right editors who are committed to overcoming the odds and creating bestsellers, and then staying involved after the deal, every single step of the way, with both the publisher and author to ensure that the finished book is flawless in content, packaged perfectly, and promoted effectively."
A graduate of the University of Virginia and the Radcliffe Publishing Program, Byrd Leavell has been an agent for twelve years and in that time has represented two of the most popular humor books ever in Tucker Max’s I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER IN HELL and Justin Halpern’s SH*T MY DAD SAYS. He handles narrative non-fiction, sports, humor, and commercial fiction that reads like you just grabbed hold of a speeding train; his clients include Scott Sigler, Drew Magary, Cat Marnell, Babe Walker, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Pete Sampras, George Karl, Mike Sacks, and John. L. Parker Jr.
"My favorite part of being an agent is the thrill of discovery. Being the first to experience a new world or a brand-new author simply never gets old. Couple that with the joy of sharing that wonderful book with editors and eventually readers and you’ve got the reason I truly love my job.
I’m drawn to well-told commercial novels in a variety of genres. I’m much more likely to keep reading if I know from that perfectly-executed first page that this character (or author, in the case of nonfiction) is someone who interests me, someone whose story I’d like to get lost in for the next two hours. I know I’ve found a winner when I encounter writers whose skills on the page make me know beyond any doubt that I’m in excellent hands.
I’m currently seeking middle grade and young adult fiction, women’s fiction (both commercial and upmarket), urban fantasy and romance. I also represent select nonfiction projects.
I do not represent poetry, screenplays, picture books, thrillers, or erotica."
Prior to joining the Waxman Literary Agency in 2007, Holly Root worked at the William Morris Agency and Trident Media Group.
Mr. Kirshbaum has a long history of involvement in all phases of publishing -- as a writer, agent and publisher. Most of his career was spent at Time-Warner publishing from 1974-2005 where he started as a marketing executive and ultimately became CEO of Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing) and then head of the Time-Warner Book Group (now the Hachette Book Group). During a span of over 30 years, he was involved in publishing dozens of NYT bestselling authors ranging from James Redfield, Nelson DeMille, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci, Robert James Waller and Sandra Brown to Malcolm Gladwell and Madonna.
After leaving Time-Warner in 2005, he founded the LJK Literary Agency where he and his colleagues represented NYT bestselling authors such as Ree Drummond (the Pioneer woman cookbooks), Kathleen McGowan, author of the Mary Magdalene trilogy, Donald Trump and Edgar-winning author David Ellis.
Over the past 2 1/2 years, he has been Vice-President and head of the NY Publishing Office of Amazon.com and has helped launch a list of adult bestsellers. These are notably headlined by Tim Ferriss' bestselling "The 4-Hour Chef" and include more literary works such as Jay Parini's "Jesus" which has received huge critical acclaim. During his tenure at Amazon, the NY publishing group acquired and managed the children's trade list of Marshall Cavendish Corp. Mr. Kirshbaum was also very involved as an editor in developing self-published authors, a current focus. As a Waxman Leavell agent, Larry hopes to sign fiction and nonfiction authors, including those who are self-published.
I love connecting with a writer on an editorial level so we’re both motivated to create something special. In everything I read, be it nonfiction or fiction, I’m looking for that certain spark. But that’s just the beginning. I enjoy forging long relationships that result in a writer finding the perfect editor and publishing a book that they’re proud of and becomes a success.
I joined the The Waxman Leavell Agency as an agent in 2013. I’ve previously held positions at Mary Evans Inc., Lippincott Massie McQuilkin and at the literary scouting agency Maria Campbell Associates, where I scouted the American book market for foreign publishers and for Warner Brothers. My list is mostly nonfiction and I’m always on the lookout for subject-driven narratives, memoirs and biography, journalism, popular culture and the occasional humor and gift book. I’m very selective with fiction, but drawn to novels that pay equal attention to both the voice and the story, and literary fiction that pops off the page. I do not represent sci-fi, fantasy, young adult fiction or screenplays.
I am especially drawn to literary fiction with unforgettable characters and a strong sense of narrative tension. I look for novels that explore the depths of human experience and surprise readers with original storytelling. I also love sharply written atmospheric thrillers and suspense-driven work. I want to be caught in the story’s spell from page one.
As an agent, I enjoy being on the writer’s side every step of the way—from providing feedback on early drafts, to matching the work with the right editor, to acting as a guide through the complicated and changing world of publishing. The writing life can be a solitary experience, and I love being the writer’s connection to a wide world of readers. I enjoy thinking about fiction in terms of craft. You’ll find well-worn copies of books by Anne Lamott and Charles Baxter on my bookshelf.
I hold a B.A. in English from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Before joining Waxman Leavell, I worked at Sobel Weber Associates and in the editorial departments of Tin House and Publishers Weekly.
I am drawn to novels with a compelling voice and grounded, relatable characters that pull me into their world from the start. My favorite books have strong emotional elements that stay with me long after I finish reading.
My current interests include young adult fiction, historical fiction, and historical romance.
I'm actively seeking middle grade and young adult novels of all genres, historical fiction, women's fiction, and romance—contemporary, historical, and new adult. I do not represent screenplays.
I am a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and received a master’s degree from Emerson College’s Publishing and Writing program. Prior to joining Waxman Leavell in 2013, I worked at the Gersh Agency.
I'm a creative person by nature, and I love to work with authors to build great stories and create inventive concepts that will keep readers from putting their books down. My editorial philosophy favors long-term sustainability over the short sale; while my main goal is to get authors the best deal possible, I also want to work with writers to expand their reach and develop strategies that will support a career for years to come. I believe that educating clients and helping them navigate the entire landscape of publishing is necessary for success, and I look forward to creating partnerships that prioritize building identifiable author brands.
In fiction, I'm actively acquiring page-turning New Adult novels, plot-driven commercial and upmarket women's fiction, historical fiction, psychological suspense, cozy mysteries and contemporary romance. In nonfiction, I'm looking for projects in the categories of mind/body/spirit, self-help, health and wellness, inspirational memoir, food/wine books (both narrative and prescriptive) and a limited number of accessible cookbooks.
Prior to joining Waxman Leavell as an acquiring agent in 2014, I held positions at the Park Literary Group, where I specialized in author support and foreign rights, and at Aram Fox, Inc. as an international literary scout for publishers based outside the United States. I hold a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from the University of South Florida, a Graduate Certificate in Publishing from the University of Denver's Publishing Institute and an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University.
In my view, the most rewarding aspect of publishing is shepherding an author into a successful career. It can be done in a variety of ways, but my background has given me a unique perspective on developing writers and their careers. In my early days as a publicist for Del Rey Books, I persistently advocated for authors including notable Bruce Sterling and China Miéville, working to ensure their writing was squarely in the public eye. As an editor for the Random House Publishing Group, some of my acquisitions included Daryl Gregory’s Philip K. Dick Award-nominated Pandemonium, Harry Turtledove’s The Man with the Iron Heart, Babylon Babies (also a motion picture titled Babylon A.D.) by French author Maurice Dantec, and Lane Robins’s acclaimed first novel Maledicte. As a developmental editor for Wizards of the Coast, I worked alongside authors such as R. A. Salvatore, Paul Kemp, Troy Denning, Mathew Stover, and Laura Resnick to develop shared world series for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. More recently I have had the pleasure to work as the developmental editor for The Mongoliad Cycle by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, et al. and the subsequent Foreworld Saga spin-offs.
My guiding principle as an editor was to prioritize the author’s work above all else—to preserve its integrity, draw out its best expression through a deliberate exchange of ideas, and to communicate its vision to the rest of the company. As an agent, I now have an opportunity to use all the skills I have honed throughout the years to champion writers and their work, and help them to fully realize their potential.
While I consider fantasy to be my specialty, I have a passion for all speculative fiction. Whether it’s alternate history, military SF, space opera, steampunk, or any of the other myriad subgenres, I’m looking for a distinct voice, a good sense of story, and strong characterization. With any one of these, you’ll have my interest; with all three you’ll be on your way to bestsellerdom. And I’ll be there at every step to make sure your work has the best representation possible.
Prior to becoming an agent, I spent thirteen years working in various roles inside the children’s publishing industry: as an Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books, where I acquired Veronica Roth's YA juggernaut Divergent series, among many other fantastic projects; as Head of Editorial at Storybird, a publishing/tech start-up; and in School & Library Marketing at both HarperCollins and Clarion Books. I love the creative process and early-stage project development, am invigorated by business strategy and entrepreneurial thinking, and am fascinated by the intersections of art, commerce, creativity, and innovation. I’m especially passionate about the people behind books, and take pride in discovering and evangelizing talented authors and illustrators, expanding the global reach of their work, and finding new ways to build connections and community among creators, readers, stories, and their champions.
When I’m reading a manuscript, in my head I’m thinking about building connections: with the editor who will buy and champion it; with the publishing team who will bring it to life and send it out into the world; with the teachers, librarians, booksellers, and other professional book mavens who will put it into exactly the right hands—and most of all, I’m thinking about the readers whose lives will be entertained, improved, challenged, informed, or delighted by it. The stronger those connections, the more likely a book will live on forever. If I can visualize exactly how to form that web of connections around a book and its creator while I’m reading an early draft, then it’s a fantastic signal that I also know how to help that author or artist build their way into a meaningful, and potentially lucrative, career.
I am most actively seeking middle grade and YA fiction and picture book author/illustrators, and—more selectively—narrative nonfiction (including children’s/YA/MG, pop science/pop culture, and lifestyle/food/travel/cookbook projects by authors with well-established platforms). In all categories, I'm drawn to character-driven explorations of universal human stories, truths, and experiences; plots driven by a compelling "what-if"; a vivid sense of place and/or world-building; narratives about creativity, community, and the intersections of unexpectedly-connected topics; groundbreaking themes, formats, and voices; masterful, original writing; and stories that will surprise and delight readers. I do NOT represent: adult fiction (of any genre), poetry chapbooks, screenplays, or erotica.