Byrd Leavell Believes Literary Marketing Success Shouldn’t be the Sole Responsibility of the Publisher

Byrd Leavell

September 16, 2021

Byrd Leavell Believes Literary Marketing Success Shouldn’t be the Sole R

Marketing should be something that literary agents understand and offer on behalf of their authors, Byrd Leavell says.

The book publishing industry is a competitive and saturated industry. It can be difficult for a new or unknown author to get a book in front of a large audience. According to literary agent Byrd Leavell, the marketing of a new publication should never be limited to the publisher alone. He recently spoke out about how new authors should be entering the market.

“Publishers are swamped with a number of new books, new book deals, new authors and other literary agents,” he says. “You have to be realistic about being a number. This also means that you can’t rely on them to make the book a success. They just don’t have the capability to push every book out as hard as it deserves. That leaves a lot of great books just sitting on the shelf and collecting dust. I didn’t want to make that mistake with my clients.”

In an interview on Sarah’s Bookshelves podcast, Leavell said he learned this lesson early in his career. He wanted to approach the publishing process with a different perspective on how to support a book on the road to success.

Byrd Leavell  realized that I didn’t want to be working on books and depending on the publisher for the success of those books,” he said. “The publisher is going to have a marketing budget in mind when they make the offer. And the truth is: they are often abysmal.”

He says a lot of the publisher’s budget goes towards the sale of the book itself. Leavell also says literary agents have made the market very competitive for publishers to buy great books, putting more of the budget into the pocket of the author.

For authors who aren’t willing to work on the marketing efforts themselves, the results can be disappointing. “It’s the job of the agent to help prepare authors for the reality of their situation,” Byrd Leavell says. “It’s not helpful at all if an agent paints a rosy picture of rainbows and sunshine. The author has poured time and effort into their work. It deserves to go as far as it can.”

His thoughts come at a time when many authors and publishers are focusing their attention online. While Byrd Leavell says print certainly isn’t dead, digital books offer a great opportunity during a digital age, especially after the rise of the pandemic.l,l;