If this horse could talk: Young author at DL Library Tuesday
She’s only 20 years old, but she has already done what many writers only dream about.
Mattie Richardson has written and published four books — and next week, she brings those books, along with her own, unique story, to the Detroit Lakes Library.
Richardson, who is a Sheldon, N.D., native, is scheduled to appear at the library Tuesday, March 18 from 4-5 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public with a special emphasis on children and even more specifically, children who love to write.
“What I hope to do is just explain what my books are about, how I wrote them and explain to kids what being an author is like and what their options are if they like to write,” said Richardson, who wrote and self-published her first book when she was only 13 years old.
“But I’m pretty sure I’ve been writing since I was seven or eight,” she said, adding that since she spent most of her life being homeschooled, she was able to find the extra time to pour herself into reading and writing.
“When I first started, I was writing six to eight hours a day,” she said, developing a passion for both history and horses.
Together, they seemed to make for endless story ideas, including the one that became her first published book — Appaloosy.
Appaloosy set the stage for her three-book series, all fictional stories written about historical events told through a horse’s point of view.
Richardson says although her stories are fiction, she wanted the historical aspect of it to be as accurate as possible, so she does a couple of months of straight research on the time period she wants to write about before she even begins.
The books are intended for ages 8-14 and —along with her newest teen-young adult novel, Blackberry Blossom — can be purchased on Amazon.com and at over a dozen book stores in the region.
So far she estimates that she’s sold roughly 1,200 copies of her books.
But this young, country-loving author didn’t get a bit of her success handed to her.
Although Richardson, the oldest of eight siblings, had supportive parents, she says they really let her take the initiative on every aspect along the way.
She learned the ropes of self-publishing from asking a lot of questions and doing the leg work.
“The first book you publish you pay for the proofs, cover design — everything,” said Richardson, who worked all summer at the Dairy Queen to pay for the publishing of her first book.
“It gets easier as time goes on, though because if you can sell more, you get more because reprints are a lot cheaper,” she said, adding that throughout the entire process she’s probably only so far broken even.
But that could very easily change, too, as Richardson very modestly admits that her name seems to be getting out there more and as people become more familiar with her work, she’s starting to get more and more positive feedback.
“It’s sort of about proving yourself, too, because the first book I hardly sold any, but then the more books I wrote, the more people would come up to me and tell me that they liked my books,” said Richardson.
The admittedly shy-by-nature kind of girl has gained confidence and some bravery herself throughout this process, as she’s made it a point to stop at book stores around the tri-state area to promote herself and hopefully get them to carry her books.
Richardson has gotten paid to write some articles for newspapers and magazines around the area as well — nothing that will make her wealthy anytime soon, but she says that’s OK.
“I’ve been blessed all around because I keep making just enough to keep writing,” said Richardson, who typically only charges places like the libraries and schools gas money and expenses for her to get there to speak.
“And then if people want to pay me more, that’s great, but I just love being able to do this,” she said.
And readers haven’t heard the last of the young talent — Richardson is working on a couple of more books, including a fourth in the horse series.
This, while traveling around to speaking engagements and going to college.
Richardson is an English major at Valley City State University.
“It’s a lot harder to make money from writing that a lot of people think — it can be kind of feast or famine, so I want to be an English teacher — that way I can have a real, steady job that can also allow for me to write,” she said, excited to teach kids about history through her own books as well.
“There’s just something about being able to share your stories with others through a book — I just love it,” said Richardson.