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 artistsnetwork.com, 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 You might find other interviews with Anna on the Web, but most have outdated information.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).
And finally, if you have any questions about the above, send Anna an email and she may address them on this page. That means she'll probably be modifying the page over time. Check back if you're interested.