Friday, January 17, 2014

MARY SUE SEYMOUR, a Very Special AGENT's POV

I’ll credit my Father in Heaven for the wonderful idea to interview my literary agent, Mary Sue Seymour. She divinely stepped into my life at the end of April, 2012. I’ll never forget her getting off the elevator and coming to hug my neck. She said, “You’re the first McAdoo I’ve ever met who isn’t family!” As though God tapped us on the head with His velvet hammer—Pay attention here, ladies, I have a plan! I could hardly believe her maiden name was McAdoo, she grew up one, I married one! But then we serve an able and awesome God!

 
Mary Sue McAdoo Seymour, The Seymour Agency, New York

ON BEING AN AGENT

Mary Sue, knowing how busy you are, I want to thank you right off for giving me this time to get to know you a little better. I know you’ve been an art teacher and taught piano, too, but I’m curious as to that first book you sold, beginning this career you’ve so excelled at. What and when was your first ever sell?

A four book deal to Bantam back in the early 90’s.

And how did it all come about?

She had some pretty serious violence in the book’s beginning toward women, so I did a line-to-line edit on the work and edited that out. Her name was Tammy Schmanski, but since it was a medieval series, she used the aka of Tamara Leigh.

Have there been any near misses? Someone you passed on that made it big?

Not that I know of.

Well that’s good, but not surprising. I know from following you on Facebook that you are one traveling woman! How many writers’ conferences do you typically go to in a year?

About 12 or so – then last September, I did ACFW, The Baltimore Book Festival, and CT Fiction Fest, so it really varies. I try to go wherever I’m invited. Last spring, went to Wisconsin RWA and to a conference at Shreveport, LA. Was crushed when my flight was canceled do to heavy thunder storms and missed ICRS. Had to cancel 30 appointments with editors but they all said how bad the storms were.

Wow, yes, I didn’t even think of agents and editors during that terrible storm, but no doubt! You probably spend more than your fair share in airports during bad weather. There are so many conferences all over the US, which one or two do you remember as being the most fun and why?

Speaking honestly, the conferences that are the most fun are the ones where I do the least amount of work. ‘Meet the Agent’ in Philadelphia, PA is pretty easy. We do speed dating pitches one day there, but they put us up for two nights in a Marriott in downtown Philly. Lots of shopping/restaurants, and it’s beautiful. But again, it’s always great to see my clients at conferences. I have the most clients at ACFW and RWA. So in the end, even though much work is involved, I guess those would be the two.

You seem to have a sixth sense as to who should write what. I know you told me very specifically to write you a historical Christian romance set in the 1800s. And another one of your authors—Jen Beckstrand or Mary Ellis?—told me you told them to write an Amish book. How do you do that? Know what we should write? Because now, I can’t imagine not writing the genre you suggested for me!

God is my guide in everything, but I keep in close touch with editors. I maintain extremely positive relationships with editors to find out who is buying what. I appreciate them! Respect the time they put into their job. They are all overworked as far as I’m concerned.
Sometimes, I send them little Christmas gifts to let them know I’m thinking of them. When the Thomas Nelson team took me out for breakfast at ACFW, I gave them each a sterling silver bracelet with a cross on it. A dear friend of mine who is an editor at Harvest House was having surgery, loves cats, so I gave her a cat prayer book at ACFW. I love the editors I work with and try to show that in all things. I appreciate them buying my clients’ books.

I know you have several Texas authors, do we represent the most in any one state, and if not what’s #1? (be it known I cannot even THINK of Texas coming behind any state J)
Mary Sue took all her authors attending ACFW Conference to dinner at P. F. Changs! My first time to meet all these wonderful Seymour ladies. What a treat!

I do believe I have more clients in Texas than any other state. But Ohio is a close second.

Yea, I’m so glad to hear Texas is #1!! I can’t begin to imagine how many manuscripts you must have read. Have you kept a count?Care to make an educated guess if not?

1,000’s and 1,000’s

Have you ever been involved in a floor bid?

Yes, I have had auctions.

Who do you read for pleasure?

My clients’ works, they are my favorites!


PERSONAL & FAMILY

Were you born and reared in New York State? Ever live anywhere else?

Yes, father was a dairy farmer, and we were very poor. I was one of 8 children, and I remember my brothers not always having socks in the cold Northern New York winters. When I was young, my mother became ill, my father couldn’t afford a sitter so my 3 sisters and I were placed in different foster homes.
Since I was the oldest, I tried to raise my younger sisters from afar. Having said that, I didn’t do a very good job of it, but I was there for them. I looked at this experience in a positive way. If this hadn’t happened, I would have missed knowing my foster family who has meant a lot to me over the years.

Where in the wide world would you like to go that you haven’t been yet?

Scotland because my ancestors migrated from Scotland to Ireland.

How did you meet your husband?
Michael and Mary Sue
A friend flew back from NYC reading a bridal magazine. She was engaged, but when she returned home, her fiancée broke it up with her. She was so sad, she asked me to go to a dance with her and socialize. My hair was dirty and going out was the last thing I felt like doing, but I did, and was introduced to my husband of 35 years, Michael.

What’s your absolutely favorite family memory?

Rocking my two sons Matthew and Luke when they were babies. Sometimes I’d sing to them when they could put up with it.

When you put the literary world behind you, what do you enjoy doing?

With Kelly Irvin at the Seymour Retreat in Florida! Jan. '14
I love Disney and Mickey Mouse and the whole childish set up! I love watching The Voice and watching the contestants grow with their God-given abilities. I love walking on the beach and appreciating everything God has put here for us.

What about a special memory with another loved one?

My oldest foster sister Barbara called me after I received my diagnosis to tell me she wished she could take it for me. I was very touched by this.

No greater blessing than a new wee family member!
Last but never least (the first will be last…) I know you to be a woman of faith, Mary Sue. I want to offer you the chance to give God glory. Will you share your testimony with us?

Ah, God! Who is responsible for my wildly successful literary agency, who gave me my husband who has loved me for over 35 years and my sons and daughter-in-law Nicky, and now a new grandbaby Grayson? It’s Him. 

He has given me clients that pray for my current health challenge, and I love being a part of the wonderful Seymour Agency family. He has given me Nicole –my co-agent –who is the daughter I always wanted but never had. 
Mary Sue and Nicole Resciniti
And all the people I’ve met in the last 20 plus years, I’ve met from agenting. Editors, publishers, clients, interns and even especially the authors who have queried me, pitched to me, or wanted to become clients, but aren’t quite ready. God has placed all these wonderful people in my life and it has caused me much joy! I will be eternally thankful to HIM!


Well, what a great note to end on, Mary Sue. Your faith certainly drew me to you, and I’m very thankful that God brought you into my life, not just because you sold VOW UNBROKEN either! J Just to know you has added a sweetness to it, and now that I know you even better, you occupy a little more of my heart. Thanks so much for sharing!