Children’s book publisher making a splash on East Coast

McSea Books might not have a brick-and-mortar storefront, but that hasn’t stopped the little publishing house from becoming one of Maine's favorite children’s bookstores.

It’s easy to see why this Lincoln-based self-publishing company is so popular.

It is de rigueur for anyone who loves reading to children and anyone who loves Maine and New England.

It is a must-visit site for anyone with an appreciation for the Pine Tree State and all its craggy shoreline, its beaches ripe for sea-glass scouring, its luscious lobsters, its millions of acres of forested trails, its zillion pinecones, and its overlooked maple syrup production.

Natives and visitors alike are enchanted by McSea Books, started in 2019 by Stephanie Mulligan (no do-over golf jokes, please; she’s heard them all) when she grew weary of a story/poem bouncing around in her head.

After graduating from the University of Maine at Orono with a bachelor of science degree in education (concentration in English), she was tooling around one afternoon with her brother-in-law who owned a working lobster boat named the Lucky Catch. He used it to take tourists out lobster fishing, and as they were returning from the cold, shallow waters off Maine’s coastline, she decided to get the poem out of her head and onto paper.

After reading the story over the phone to her mother, Pat, who said it sounded like a great children’s book and not just a poem, Stephanie decided to self-publish How to Catch a Keeper after local publishers wouldn’t touch it.

The book is designed to teach children all about lobstering, with information about baited and buoyed lobster traps, marine law about sizing, and more.

It was an instant success. People who had come of age in Maine loved it. New Englanders adored it. The story charmed everyone who read it, and it resonated with folks who’d grown up with the benthic creatures and knew a cull (missing one claw) from a regular lobster.

She printed two thousand copies and, after driving herself up the Maine coast toward Bar Harbor, giving away freebies to hotels, restaurants, and gift shops, she needed more copies to sell. She ordered a second printing.

Knowing she was fostering deep and meaningful conversations between generations gave Stephanie’s life real purpose. She next decided to publish a book about a passion of her father-in-law, Terry Mulligan, who’d just retired at the time: tapping maple trees for the sap to make delectable maple syrup—How to Tap a Maple!

The book was an instant hit. One local high school even built its own sugar shack and included her book as an experiential learning tool.

Her books are growing more popular by the moment. They have been snapped up by the Maine Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education in Nova Scotia, and more. Recently, the Scarborough, Maine, school district opted to use grant monies to give all its kindergarten through second-graders a copy of one of her best sellers, A Dog and his Boy. This book is a tale about a boy with special needs named Scotty and his stuffed toy dog, Spillway. The stuffed animal is nineteen years old, and the toy has long been discontinued. Scotty’s mother made a social media appeal for a publisher to tell their story, and within minutes, three friends contacted Stephanie to tell her about the appeal and asked her to publish the book. She published the story, and shortly thereafter, stuffed dog-duplicates started being shipped to her and others, and still more have arranged to be picked up. The family now has five identical stuffed dogs waiting to be used, and Stephanie had to order a second printing of the book because, while it doesn’t publish until February 2023, the first three thousand copies are already sold out. She’s currently pitching the story to CBS for its morning program. 

By 2012, Stephanie was married to her husband, former NFL professional tight end Matthew Mulligan and in 2013, she became pregnant with their first child, daughter Clara, now 9.

Stephanie, who’d written a picture book with her husband when they were younger, knew instinctively that she wanted the flexibility to stay home and raise the couple’s children, so with a little divine providence, in 2019, McSea Books was born.

McSea is an acronym for the first letter in each family member’s first name: “M” for Matthew, “c” for Clara, “S” for Stephanie, “e’ for Emmett, who is eight, and “a” for Adelina (affectionately known as Lena), who is six.

It has been a whirlwind ride.

Stephanie works tirelessly to promote local authors and illustrators. She has a personal connection with all of them, and she knows that connection is important to the people who purchase her books and the audience for whom they are written. She gets tons of emails thanking her for publishing books that take readers back to when they went clamming with a grandparent (Clams All Year) or gives them a stepping stone with another generation (My Maine or My Massachusetts).

The connection is not taken for granted. She has put authors together with illustrators near and far and published eight children’s books last year. She’s on track to outstrip that pace in 2023.

Stephanie knows she’s been blessed many times over, but she has no plans to stop now.

This article was presented and sponsored by McSea Books. For more information, go to or click the banner below.


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