Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 23, 2018

November Agent of the Month – Anna Olswanger – Part Two Interview

Anna Olswanger has been a literary agent since 2005. She started her career at Liza Dawson Associates in Manhattan, and in 2014 launched her own literary agency, Olswanger Literary LLC, where she represents picture books (author-illustrators only), middle grade fiction and adult nonfiction. She is a member of the AAR, Association of Authors’ Representatives.

Anna has sold to major publishers, including Bloomsbury, Chronicle, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

Her clients’ books have won the Newbery Honor, Asian Pacific American Award for Literature Honor, Flora Stieglitz Strauss Award for Nonfiction, Orbis Pictus Honor, PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing, Parents Choice Gold Award, Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books, Sibert Award Honor, Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Honor, Sydney Taylor Silver Medal, Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Honor, International Bologna/Ragazzi Nonfiction Honor, CCBC Choices, and been Junior Library Guild Selections and on The New York Times Bestseller list. You can view all her clients’ books on Pinterest.

Anna enjoys discovering new authors and illustrators, and is looking for “voice,” the sound and rhythm of an author that is hers alone. She has a particular interest in picture books (author-illustrators only).

She works hard with authors to get their manuscripts into shape for submission. She finds that most manuscripts need work on 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.)

Anna is also interested in finding unusual books with a Judaic or Israel theme. She is the agent for Ruchama Feuerman’s novel In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, about the friendship between a rabbi’s assistant and a devout Muslim janitor, and Santiago Cohen’s picture book The Yiddish Fish, about a fish who speaks Yiddish.

If you think Anna would be the right agent for you, start by sending her an email with a few details about your book and the opening pages in the body of an email (not in an attachment). If Anna likes what she reads in your query, she’ll ask to see the full manuscript.

No phone calls please.


I am looking for picture books (author-illustrators only), nonfiction for all ages (PB, MG, YA, and adult, including nonfiction graphic novels), and the occasional middle grade novel (no adult or YA fiction, unless you have written the most brilliant historical cozy mystery series). I rarely represent rhyming texts, and please don’t send manuscripts set in a circus. I would not like to be part of the publication of any book that sends the untrue message that circuses are happy places for animals. You can view my client’s book at:

Submission Guidelines for Anna:

Submissions should be emailed to
Start by sending an email with a few details about your book and the opening pages in the body of an email (not in an attachment). If I like what I read in your query, I’ll ask to see the full manuscript. No phone calls please.


Any tips on how an author can get you to ask for more?

Publishing is subjective. I don’t think that there’s an across-the-board reason why agents or editors pass on a submission. Each agent and editor has her own reasons. An author should send what she thinks is her best work, and if she doesn’t give up, she will eventually find the agent or editor that her work resonates with.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

One page.

Any pet peeves?

I don’t like it when authors or illustrators ask me to jump through hoops to see a submission (go to a website, go to a Dropbox account, look at a dozen JPEG attachments).

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?


How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

A few days, if that long.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

Sometimes, the submissions feel all the same to me, as though authors are trying to write to the market. I’m interested in the story that only that particular writer could tell.

Do you have a place where you keep writers up-to-date on what you would like to see? Blog?

I update my website whenever my interests change: . Right now, for example, it says that I am focusing on illustrated work. That could change, of course.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes, because I put my clients through many revisions before I send out their work.

Do you ever represent a children’s book illustrator who does not write?

Yes, but I’m not an artists’ rep, which means I don’t submit portfolios to art directors. I submit art-and-text packages to editors. If an artist is wonderful, but doesn’t have as much skill in writing, she and I can usually come up with a simple book idea for her, and I can send that out as by the “author-illustrator.”

How long is your average client relationship?

In the thirteen years that I’ve been an agent, only two clients have left me, one because she didn’t like being edited, and the other because she thought it was taking too long to find a publisher. So, although I’m always taking on new clients, I’d say that most of my clients are “for the duration.”


In the subject line, please write “NOVEMBER 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE”  Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page.Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: November 29th.

RESULTS: December 7th.

Talk tomorrow,


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