Literary agent Alice Speilburg and I met at a writing conference. She was very pregnant and spent many long hours in an uncomfortable chair listening to pitches. That evening, she drove back to Kentucky. As someone who has been pregnant five times (but who’s counting), I was amazed by her enduring good humor and the gentle smile that lasted through out the day. I am very fortunate to have met her.
Me: I am seriously in awe of you and I’d be honored if you’d confabulate with me on my blog.
Alice: This kind of interview looks like a lot of fun, and I’d love to participate!
Me: You live in Kentucky so tell us, how do you honestly feel about mint juleps?
Alice: If you make it right, a mint julep is mostly bourbon, with just a splash of mint flavored simple syrup. When I lived in Hoboken, NJ, I threw a Kentucky Derby party every year and I would drink these all day long. But the sugary versions that come in a bottle? Yuck. I’ll take a Four Roses on the rocks, please.
Me: How will your husband feel if your baby is a Michigan fan?
Alice: Blue and Maize is not an option for the little Speilburg boy. I’ve even had to avoid mixing blue and yellow in the nursery! It’s Go Green for Michigan State or, well, pretty much anything but Michigan. He will definitely have some UK blue and white in the closet (to support my alma mater).
Me: Where’s your favorite spot to read?
Alice: Since I was little, I’ve been known to read just about anywhere, under any circumstance. I’ve read books at concerts, bustling coffee shops, holiday parties, and of course, on the subway. I love being able to escape the crowds around me by tuning into the world within a book.
Me: How did you come up with the name Chomsky for your dog? Is he related to Noam by any chance?
Alice: Clearly my dog has amazing linguistic abilities (he really does sound quite human at times), but yes, he is named after Noam Chomsky. I love to watch people’s reactions when they ask me his name as we’re walking down the street. They either say, “Ah, Noam,” very sagely, or they tilt their head, “Chomps..?”
Me: What’s the biggest misconception about your career as an agent?
Alice: Because authors can’t submit to a large traditional publisher without an agent, they often think that “getting the deal” is the biggest part of what I could do for them. In fact, getting to the deal is the just opening act of the agent-author relationship. By the time we receive an offer, the author and I have worked through four drafts of the manuscript, received terrible rejections and exciting offers, so we’ve built up a strong layer of trust and understanding, but the word “represent” takes on a fuller meaning as we move forward. I’m constantly making sure that my published clients are paid on time, that the editor is doing everything they should be doing to support the book in-house, that the publisher is fulfilling their end of the agreement, and if they’re not, explaining to the author what kind of alternative options we’re looking at. Beyond the book, the agent also handles all the subsidiary rights that the author retained in her contract. Just as being an author doesn’t stop once you get a book deal, neither does being an agent. The deal is just the beginning.
Music Kate Nash
Time of day Dusk
Ice cream flavor Coffee
Subject in school Chemistry
Thanks so much for stopping by Alice. Congratulations on Baby Boy Speilburg, who is due to make an appearance in a few short weeks.
Alice Speilburg founded Speilburg Literary Agency in 2012, bringing with her the editorial and business expertise she had developed in previous publishing positions at John Wiley & Sons and Howard Morhaim Literary Agency.
She is currently building her client list and represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction. In nonfiction, she’s looking for authors with established platforms who are writing books in the following categories: biography, food, gender issues, health, history, literary journalism, music, pop culture, relationships, science, and travel.
In fiction, she’s currently looking for character-driven novels that fall under the following genres: historical fiction, mainstream literary, mystery/suspense, science fiction/fantasy, middle grade, and young adult.