Andy Ross, Andy Ross Agency

Andy Ross opened his literary agency in 2008.  Prior to that, he was the owner of the legendary Cody’s Books in Berkeley for 30 years. His agency represents books in a wide range of non-fiction genres including narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, popular culture, memoir,  and current events. He also represents literary, commercial, historical, and upmarket women’s fiction, and YA and middle-grade fiction.  

For non-fiction, Andy looks for writing with a strong voice, robust story arc, and books that tell a big story about culture and society by authors with authority to write about their subject.  In fiction, he likes the character and voice-driven stories about real people in the real world.  Sorry. No zombies at the prom, thank you very much.

Andy has participated in and taught classes at numerous writers’ conferences including: San Francisco Writers Conference, Kauai Writers Conference, San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference, Nebraska Writers Conference, and more. He has organized and conducted writing-intensive workshops with Linda Watanabe McFerrin in Santa Fe and in Scotland. 

Andy is the author of The Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

Authors Andy represents include: Daniel Ellsberg, Fritjof Capra, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Susan Griffin, Thomas Sanchez, Leonard Shlain, Gwen Strauss, Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Anjanette Delgado, Mark Goldblatt, Tawni Waters, Randall Platt, Mary Jo McConahay,  Gerald Nachman,  Michael Parenti, Paul Krassner, Milton Viorst, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Michele Anna Jordan, and Scott Ostler. 

Check out Andy’s website:



  1. First Lines: First lines make a difference. Most agents and editors will tell you that you can’t tell if the book will work in the first paragraph, but you can tell if the author has “voice.” And in this business, voice is everything..  In this workshop, you will be the agent. We will read and analyze the first paragraphs of various works. Some from my slush pile. Some books I represented. And some books by published authors. Based on our discussion of the first lines, participants will decide, as virtual agents,  which authors they would choose to represent . Let’s see if you can guess which ones were published. 

2. Query Letter Workshop: If you are ready to seek out a literary agent, you will need an effective query letter. It’s important to remember that agents typically get 10-20 query letters a day. Sometimes more. So you have about 30 seconds to get the agent’s attention. In this class, we will discuss how to write effective query letters that make your project pop. Bring your own drafts. We will workshop them. 

3. Elements of the Book Proposal. If you seek to get your non-fiction book published, you will have to write a book proposal. Writing the proposal isn’t as daunting as it sounds. A book proposal is a business plan. It needs to be written in a standard structured form and needs to answer the questions that an acquisition editor will be asking: What is the book about? Why do we need it? Who is the audience for the book? Why do you have the authority to write it? How will you market and promote the book once it is published?  Andy Ross is a literary agent and author of  The Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal. 

4. Checklist For The Final Draft – Fiction. It’s difficult finding an agent. You don’t want to send out your fiction manuscript until it is perfect. As an agent, I usually see lots of craft problems in submissions, even by the most accomplished writers. Most of these problems could have been corrected before sending the manuscript off. In this class, we will discuss the craft issues that you need to focus on in your final draft. We will discuss plot, character, point-of-view, dialogue, voice, and backstory. We will focus on the kind of issues agents see frequently.