Success Story Interview - M.A. Seaman

An Interview with M.A. Seaman (stickers2418 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Andie Smith of The Booker Albert Literary Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
M.A. Seaman:
My book is a Lower YA mystery adventure with speculative elements. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl who, using her secret ability, races to solve the case of her long-missing brother while uncovering the mysteries of a hidden and fantastical society.

I first got the idea for the MC’s ability in November 2011, sitting in an algebra classroom in Washington State. I was a freshman and, as anyone who knows me is well aware of, not a huge fan of math. While I had a great teacher, I spent more time writing scenes in the back of my notebook than paying attention. And on those dark, rainy afternoons, it was there that I first encountered the simple idea that became the genesis of my main character, her ability, and her world.
QT: How long have you been writing?
M.A. Seaman:
Like many authors, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I scribbled my first complete story in a stapled wad of blue printer paper during recess when I was in the first grade. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
M.A. Seaman:
I first got the idea for the book in 2011, but didn’t complete the first full draft until 2014. I’ve spent the decade since then writing, revising, building the world, and planning the series. I’ve been working on this latest version, the one for which I’ve found representation, since 2018.
QT: Is this your first book?
M.A. Seaman:
No. This is technically a very revised and “Frankensteined” version of my second manuscript.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
M.A. Seaman:
I have a BA in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. I also studied abroad during my undergraduate studies in a creative writing program in Rome and an English Literature program in London. I currently work in public affairs and public relations, so I also write press releases, newsletters, op-eds, etc. through my day job.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
M.A. Seaman:
Not at the moment, but I only try to write when I feel inspired. I’ve found that when I force it, it comes through in the writing and the reader can feel the lack of enthusiasm. So when I’m uninspired, I go to the places that make me want to write, like my favorite coffee or book shops. Or, I skip around in my WIP and write the scene I’m in the mood for, turn on a movie soundtrack playlist, scroll through my Pinterest board, etc.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
M.A. Seaman:
I drastically changed the story and started over in 2016. I’ve been rewriting and editing various elements since then.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
M.A. Seaman:
I didn’t have professional beta readers, though this is something I wish I had pursued. I did, however, have feedback from fellow YA authors and kids from my target audience and age.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
M.A. Seaman:
I am a planner and outliner to the core. I swear by a variety of different resources, but my favorites include the 27 chapter outline for story beats and the J.K. Rowling spreadsheet method to track topics, threads, and character appearances throughout the novel.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
M.A. Seaman:
I’ve only ever queried this concept. I queried in 2014, 2017, and 2023, each with a different version of the book. Getting no’s during the first two rounds was hard, and I had times when I felt like giving up, but I took the closed doors as a sign that my story/series wasn’t ready yet. I kept writing, revising, and brainstorming through the years.

I started querying this latest manuscript in September 2023, got my offer of rep in March 2024, and signed in April 2024.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
M.A. Seaman:
Between cold queries and queries from conference pitches, I sent a grand total of fourteen for this latest version of my manuscript.

In addition to the previous querying rounds, I sent a total of thirty(ish) from 2014 to 2024.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
M.A. Seaman:
I selected agents I could see myself entering into a long-term business relationship with. I looked up their agencies, MSWLs, current clients, sales, social media, etc. to get an idea of who they were as a person and agent and to see if we might click. Since my book is Lower YA with genre blending (both unusual factors) I specifically tried to find agents who expressed interest in one or both of these factors.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
M.A. Seaman:
I did. I used the following language: “I am seeking representation for my Young Adult mystery adventure novel with speculative elements, TITLE. I’m submitting to you due to your interest in [enter specific notes on why I’m querying this agent].”
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
M.A. Seaman:
Keep having faith in your story. If you love it, an agent will love it too. If it’s different from what we see on shelves right now, an agent wants to see it too. When you see others finding success, know that your time is coming too. ​​Take the risk of doing, and being, something different. Know that you have a story worth telling, no matter who you are or where you come from. No one has told your exact story before.

Through every stage of this journey, trust your gut. Be patient, don’t rush, and take breaks or revisions when you see fit (even if it takes you over a decade like me!). Seek wise and professional counsel and get as much feedback as you can. Listen to writing podcasts. Get plugged into the writing community. Build a social media presence and create a website. Utilize the many wonderful features of QueryTracker Premium!

Also, don’t be afraid to attend conferences and pitch agents if you get the opportunity. It’s a great place to learn, make writer friends, and connect with agents. I can’t recommend this enough - I first met Andie via virtual pitch through a Writing Day Workshop Conference, and now she’s my agent!

Regardless of the years, the pile of shelved manuscripts, or the number of no’s, don’t ever give up. You never know when your “yes” is coming. It will come when you least expect it, and when it does, everything will change in an instant.