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Agent Spotlight: Anna Olswanger

This week's Agent Spotlight features Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates.

Status: Accepting submissions.

lda_staffphoto3-07-26-10About: “Anna Olswanger joined Liza Dawson Associates in 2005. She represents Jim Carroll's THE BOY AND THE MOON (Sleeping Bear Press), Devorah Goldman's THE NEW JEWISH FAMILY KITCHEN (Pomegranate), Luli Gray's award-winning FALCON series (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Michael Hall's MY HEART IS LIKE A ZOO and PERFECT SQUARE (Greenwillow), Zack Miller's TRADESTREAM YOUR WAY TO PROFITS: Building a Killer Portfolio in the Age of Social Media (Wiley), Jennifer Sattler's SYLVIE (Random House Children's Books) and CHICK 'N' PUG (Bloomsbury Children's Books), and upcoming books by Cathy Fishman (Cavendish), Luli Gray (McElderry), Michelle Markel (Balzer & Bray, Eerdmans, and Chronicle), Margaret Peot (Boyds Mills Press), Barry Rothstein (Chronicle) and composer Marvin Hamlisch (Dutton).

“A native of Memphis, she earned her B.A. with Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, from Rhodes College, and her M.A. from the University of Memphis.

“Anna is the author of SHLEMIEL CROOKS (Junebug/NewSouth), a Sydney Taylor Honor Book winner, Koret International Jewish Book Award finalist, and PJ Library Book.

“Anna specializes in: illustrated work, both fiction and nonfiction, for young readers and adults, and has an interest in Judaica.” (Link)

About the Agency:

"At Liza Dawson Associates, we know book publishing. We've launched first-time novelists onto The New York Times bestseller list. We've lifted established, successful writers to new, higher levels of success. And we've helped journalists and academics discover the nonfiction book they're truly excited to write – and that mainstream publishers are eager to acquire. We're a full-service literary agency based in New York City." (Link)

Web Presence:

Liza Dawson Associates website.

Anna Olswanger website.

3 Literary Agents.

SCBWI profile.

Amazon profile.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, Author Advance.

What She's Looking For:

From Her Website:

“As one of the newer agents in the agency, she focuses on children's books from picture books to YAs, but especially enjoys working with author-illustrators. She's intrigued by ghost stories and stories with animals as the protagonists, and has a special interest in Judaica.” (Link)

From AgentQuery:

“She is looking for gift books for adults, young adult fiction and nonfiction, children's illustrated books, and Judaica.  She is especially interested in working with author-illustrators and author/photographers.” (Link)

From an Interview (10/2006):

“In all markets I want a strong voice, a strong narrative arc, and writing that reveals an author's intelligence. Obviously, whether any of that is apparent is my opinion only, so writers should never take a rejection to heart. I'm especially looking for historical fiction, mysteries with an element of fantasy, and text/art packages, whether for children or adults.”

What She Isn't Looking For:

Screenplays, general adult fiction.

Editorial Agent?

“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.)” (Link)


“I prefer email contact because that is fast and efficient. I don't like spending a lot of time talking on the phone because that begins to interfere with my ability to get work done on behalf of my clients. I want a relationship where we both respect each other and work hard for each other. An author has to trust that even when she or he doesn't hear from me, I am doing what I can to sell the work.” (Link)

“If you're blogging, twittering, and posting on Facebook, when are you writing your novel or picture book? I'm not impressed by anything other than the quality of your manuscript.” (Link)

Dislikes (Don’ts):

“A query or cover letter that starts with ‘Dear Agent.’ The next biggest no-no is telling me that your manuscript has been professionally edited. I'd like to work with authors who can edit their own manuscripts.” (Link)


There are lists of client titles on the website.

Ms. Olswanger’s clients include Jim Carroll, Cathy Fishman, Devorah Goldman, Luli Gray, Michael Hall, Marvin Hamlisch, Michelle Markel, Zack Miller, Margaret Peot, Barry Rothstein, Jennifer Sattler, among others.


As 04/11, Ms. Olswanger is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 6 deals in the last 12 months and 16 overall.  Recent deals include 4 picture books and 2 non-fiction illustrated/art.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (strongly preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query with the first few pages of the manuscript. Include an email address with snail-mail submissions. (Ms. Olswanger prefers responding by email.)

See the Liza Dawson Associates website and Ms. Olswanger’s website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.  

Query Tips:

“Write a strong first sentence. ‘Strong’ can mean dramatic, stark, or surprising.”

“Pick your best manuscript and query about it. Don't mention the five other manuscripts you have ready to send. That will overwhelm the agent and make her or him wary of working with you.” (Link)

Response Times:

Ms. Olswanger generally responds to e-queries within a couple days and snail-mail queries within a month. Her response time on requested material seems to range from hours to a week via e-mail and up to a month via snail-mail.

What's the Buzz?

Anna Olswanger is an established agent at a well-respected agency.  At the moment she seems to be focusing on author-illustrators.

Alongside agenting, Ms. Olswanger provides editing and book coach services, and is a great example of an agent doing so within the AAR Canon of Ethics (in other words, she only offers said services to writers she does not want to represent). 

Do read through her website to learn more about her passions and services.

Worth Your Time:


Anna Olswanger: An Insider’s Guide to Finding an Representation and Working with an Agent at (11/2010).

Remain Optimistic: Interview with Agent Anna Olswanger at The Chinook Update (08/2010).

Podcast Interview with Anna Olswanger at Just One More Book!! (06/2007).

Agent Interview: Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates at Cynsations (10/2006).

Around the Web:

Check out the agency's FAQ page.

Check out Ms. Olswanger’s personal website, which is full of information.

Liza Dawson Associates on P&E ($, AAR). Anna Olswanger on P&E.

Liza Dawson Associates thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Ms. Olswanger answers questions For Aspiring Authors and Illustrators at The Velveteen Rabbit.

You can find interviews at The Purple Crayon that Ms. Olswanger conducted with other publishing professionals.


Please see the Liza Dawson Associates website and Ms. Olswanger’s website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 4/21/11.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent?  4/21/11.


Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.


  1. Thanks for the awesome spotlight, ladies! :-)

  2. Great spotlight. And perfect timing since I just interviewed Judith Engracia from Liza Dawson.

  3. Thank goodness I can finally post a comment. I think my browser is broken.

    Another well done spotlight, thanks all!

  4. Thanks for this Spotlight, Casey!

  5. Thank you for stopping by, Shannon, Caroline, Matthew, Thermocline. I appreciate it!

  6. Thanks for the info. Wonder if she'd be interested in a Jewish vampire (YA)?

  7. Thank you so much for all your hard work! She seems like a great agent. :)

  8. Theresa - Can't speak for Anna, but I know I'd be interested in reading that!

    Casey, thanks so much for doing this! Super helpful!

    -Anon profile requester!

  9. (Swoon) I hear Ms. Olswanger is a picture book writer's dream.

    Great spotlight!

  10. Thanks, Casey! I had the chance to meet Anna and she's indeed a class act.