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Remote Colorado Author Reaches Global Audience

Leveraging Kindle Direct Publishing, Mariana Zapata built a New York Times and USA Today best-selling career


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Pagosa Springs author Mariana Zapata has had a persistent creative imagination and passion for writing. At the age of 5 she started to write down different stories (spelling errors and all), and by her teens she was publishing creative stories on her own blog. However, even as a young adult Zapata had never seriously considered becoming a full-time author.

In 2010, Zapata was working in customer service for a retail store and was miserable.

“I felt like my job was sucking the soul out of me,” Zapata says. “One night after work I was venting to my husband and he asked why I didn’t just quit and do what I really love which was writing. It was the scariest decision of my life.”

Zapata immersed herself in her writing and began to research options for publishing her first novel. She considered trying to use traditional publishers, but discovered a number of authors that found success self-publishing their novels on Amazon’s self-publishing service Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).  

“I wanted to have full control of my own work and oversee everything from the formatting to the cover of my books without needing to go through a giant roundabout way,” says Zapata. “Kindle Direct Publishing was easy to use and allowed me to have the control I was looking for.”

Zapata self-published her first book “Lingus” in 2012, and was immediately hooked. Shortly after, she published her second novel “Under Locke” which quickly became a New York Times Best Seller.


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“It was all uphill from there,” explains Zapata. “Today, I’m able to write full-time and still spend time with my family and dogs.”

Zapata lives in a remote area of Colorado, about 40 minutes outside Pagosa Springs, and finds it reenergizing. Her secluded location allows her to focus on her work, yet she’s still able to reach readers across the country and globe.

Her books have been translated in multiple languages and seen tremendous success across the globe. “The Wall of Winnipeg and Me,” a novel about an American football player, shocked Zapata when it instantly became a No. 1 best seller in Italy. 

“The Wall of Winnipeg and Me” was inspired by a documentary about football players. I didn’t expect the book to take off in other countries, but the book storyline really resonates with readers across countries and cultures,” said Zapata.

Since 2012, Zapata has sold hundreds of thousands of books and has been able to hire a small team to help her bring the books across the finish line, including her own husband who helps with promotion and marketing.

Kindle Direct Publishing recently announced that in 2017, more than a thousand KDP authors earned over $100,000. 

“My biggest advice for striving authors is to not give up and don’t rush your creative process,” Zapata said. “Write what makes you happy, because at the end of the day you did something that you’re proud of.”

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ColoradoBiz staff

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