Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 30, 2018

November Agent of the Month Ana Olswanger – Part Three of 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.


What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?

Almost immediate with email, and because of that, my clients rarely ask to call.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

I prefer email. It’s quicker, and I can actually say more and to the point. During the submission process, I will pass on helpful responses from editors, but not responses that are negative or perfunctory. So, I communicate when there is a response from an editor that I think my client should see.

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish that one book?

I have not yet given up on a book. If I liked it when I took it on, I like it years down the road—and sometimes it can take years to find a home for a manuscript. I wouldn’t mind if a client wanted to self-publish a book.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

There’s always a new editor or publishing house, so I don’t limit the number of submissions.

What do you think of digital books?

They don’t seem to be as important now as they once were. One small publisher I deal with lets my clients keep ebook rights.

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

I work with a sub-agent in London who submits my clients’ work to European and Asian publishers. I have a film agent in Hollywood who handles performance rights.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

Smaller publishers seem to be flourishing. I’m not sure what that says about the market. Board books as a genre seem to be flourishing.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

Be patient and persistent. If you believe in your work, don’t give up. If the universe brings you a small publisher, and not one of the Big 5, and if the contract is good, take it. You cam build on that success.

Any new book contracts you can share with us?

My latest contracts are for picture books with Holiday House, Amazon/Two Lions, Creative Company, Creston Books, and Penguin Random House. I tweet about my clients’ new deals at @AnnaOlswanger, and on Facebook at AnnaOlswanger, so people can check my Twitter or Facebook accounts to see new deals.

Would you like to attend writer’s conferences, workshops, and writer’s retreats, etc?

I would like to attend if the conferences are not on a Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath, which I observe).


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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