Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 19, 2012

Anna Olswanger – Agent and Author

Many of you already know Anna Olswanger as a literary agent at Liza Dawson Associates, but she is also the author of Shlemiel Crooks (Junebug Books, 2005), a Yiddish-inflected Passover story, named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book and now author of her new book GREENHORN. In 2011 the Kaufman Center premiered a family musical based on Shlemiel Crooks at Merkin Hall in New York. Anna is a literary agent and lives in the metro New York City area with her husband. Her website is

She taught business writing for twelve years at the Johns Hopkins Center for Training and Education, and writing for physicians for five years at Stony Brook University Hospital. She continues to give writing workshops for corporations and universities. (See more about Anna as an agent further down in this piost.)


Daniel, a young Holocaust survivor, arrives at a New York yeshiva, his only possession a small box he never lets out of his sight. He rarely talks, but Aaron, a stutterer taunted by other boys, find his voice and a friend in Daniel.

The mystery of what’s in the box propels this 48 page book with interior colored illustrations by Miriam Nerlove, but it’s the complex relationship of the school boys that reveals the larger human story. Young readers, as well as adults, will find Greenhorn moving. Families will want to read it together.

Newbery Medal winner, Karen Cushman says, it is “A tender celebration of friendship, family, and faith. I cried at the horror and humanity of this simple story. Read it with your arms around someone you love.”


greenhorncoverISBN-13: 9781588382351                       

  • Publisher: NewSouth, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 10 – 14 Years

Miriam Nerlove received her master’s degree in printmaking from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and worked for a time in the photograph and slide library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She lives with her family just outside Chicago, where in addition to illustrating, she enjoys writing, painting, listening to music, and working part-time at a library.

More About Anna the agent:

Anna Olswanger has been an agent with Liza Dawson Associates for seven years. She focuses on adult nonfiction and children’s books from picture books to YAs, and especially enjoys working with author-illustrators. Although she rarely takes on novels, she’s intrigued by historical fiction (especially mysteries), ghost stories, stories with animals as the protagonists, Southern settings, Judaica and Israel.

Anna has sold to Balzer & Bray, Bloomsbury, Boyds Mills Press, Delacorte, F+W Media, Marshall Cavendish, Chronicle, Cinco Puntos, Dutton, Eerdmans, Greenwillow, Houghton Mifflin, McElderry, Pelican, Penguin Classics, Pomegranate, Random House, Sleeping Bear Press, Star Bright, and Wiley.

Although most of Anna’s clients are author-illustrators, she enjoys working with any author who has a new slant on an old idea. Zack Miller’s book, for example, describes how to use the new social media (Facebook and Twitter) to make investment decisions.

Anna is not interested in what she calls “baby bumble bee” stories. She doesn’t like superficiality in any genre, especially YAs. We can all see suffering and dying. What do you, the writer, see beneath that?

Anna works hard with authors to get their manuscripts into shape for submission. In that sense, she’s also an editor. She finds that most manuscripts need work on the plot, so if you’re a potential author or illustrator client, be ready to go through many revisions before Anna agrees to send out your manuscript. Her job is to get the story to the point where an editor will make an offer. (And then be prepared to make more revisions for the editor.)

You can read interviews with Anna online at Cynsations, the blog of Cynthia Leitich Smith, and, the site of Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market. You might find other interviews with Anna on the Web, but most have outdated information. For example, these days she prefers email queries, not snail mail. If you send an email query, you’ll hear from her in a day or two. If you send a snail mail query, you might not hear for a month or longer.

So, having read the above, if you think Anna would be the right agent for you, start by sending her an email with a few details about your book. She can usually tell from a query if she would be the right agent, and if not, don’t take it personally. Just move on to the next agent. This is a subjective business and it’s a matter of finding who you click with.

If Anna likes what she reads in your query, she’ll ask to see the first five pages of the manuscript in the body of an email. (She doesn’t open attachments.) At that point, she’ll either ask to see more of the manuscript, or let you know she’s not the right agent for you. She’s not able to give feedback if the latter is the case, and you’ll find that true of most agents (they reserve that time for their clients).

Congratulations Anna!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I don’t know if it’s my mood or what, but I found myself getting choked up just reading the description of GREENHORN!


  2. Congratulations on your new book, Anna. It was nice to be part of your critique group very briefly years ago. I’m actually still writing.


  3. Great post Kathy. Congratulations to Anna! She is both generous and deserving.


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