Almost 20 years it took author Zibby Owens to get Bookends, A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature out in the world, and it is worth the wait! I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours and LOVED IT so much! Tears and laughter for me; I experienced a full spectrum of emotions as I went along Zibby’s journey that was inspiring and courageous, yet not always easy and not a straight path . In an easy, breezy conversational style, Zibby’s writes as if we stayed up all night talking and she poured out her heart….sharing all the good and the bad she has experienced in her full and busy life. So honest and frank, Zibby serves up (ha ha – her husband was her tennis pro) so many relatable challenges like divorce, personal loss, single parenting and she celebrates beautiful new beginnings and second chances at personal success, marriage and continual growth living her dreams.
In addition, throughout Bookends, Zibby mentions so many books she devoured at different times during her childhood and adulthood, and what fun it is to recall such great reads! As a champion of authors and books, with her podcast, Mom’s Don’t Have Time to Read Books, her published anthologies and new children’s book, Princess Charming, appearances on TV and her new publishing company, Zibby Books, Zibby Owens is a household name. I highly recommend getting to know Zibby through her memoir – Bookends is now available for pre-order and will be out in July!
Q & A with Zibby Owens
Q: You have worked on this book (or a variation of it) for a long time. Do you feel any relief now that your thoughts are on paper and soon to be heading out into the world?
A: YES. I can’t explain why but I’ve had this compulsion to get my story on bookshelves for almost two decades now. I hope it works its magic!!
Q: After reading Bookends in less than 24 hours, I felt like you and I had a sleepover and you privately shared with me all your thoughts, secrets and ambitions. Your style of writing is so warm and authentic and represents your true voice; is that how it just comes out on paper or do you have to work to make everything flow? At one point I believe you wrote a version of your story that was fiction… did the voice change?
A: Yes, that’s how it just comes out! I write as if I’m speaking to someone. And yes, I tried writing this as fiction and even as a prose poem. (The idea came to me in the middle of the night — maybe it should’ve stayed there!) In some versions, it was very literary with sentences that I spent a long time on. But even though I can write like that, it just isn’t truly authentic to me. This is how I write best. From the heart. Off the cuff.
Q: You have written many essays and in your writing you are very open and brutally honest about your feelings. Which is easier for you…to write how you feel or to speak your feelings out loud?
A: Writing is a zillion times easier! Sometimes I don’t even know exactly how I’m feeling until I start typing.
Q: Do you think you will ever write a fiction book?
A: Funny you should ask. I’m writing a novel now.
Q: You have enjoyed considerable privilege and endured more than your share of loss. It seems like you spend so much of your time taking care of your family, giving of yourself and contributing to the success of authors, bookstores, readers, organizations and more. You mention in your book that you struggle with anxiety, which we know does not discriminate; it seems to be a constant, regardless of what is going on in your world, and I am wondering if you carve out time to take care of yourself and if so, what do you do?
A: I should carve out time to take care of myself but I actually view reading as my form of self-care, so in that way I’m always taking care of me!
Q: Can you tell us how the process for releasing an episode on your podcast has changed from your first interview to now? How do you decide on and book the guest, prepare for the interview, record and make it available? Do you do it all by yourself or do you have a team?
A: In the beginning, I would read every word of every book. I only released one episode a week so I could do that. And I typed out a list of detailed questions including quotes from the book and sent it to all the authors ahead of time. Now, I read what I can of each book and skim the rest and I don’t send questions ahead of time. I always have a few ideas of what I want to talk about but I’m more open to seeing where the conversation goes. I’m not worried about silence which I used to fear. I know we’ll have loads to talk about. I used to have only sound editors. Now I also have a podcast producer on my team, Chelsea, who books the interviews for me after I select the book/author. I still do all the technical stuff myself at my desk, sending the files to the sound editors and transcriber via WeTransfer. But Chelsea then uploads it to Acast for me. Plus Emily on my team uploads the transcripts and links to my website and writes the episode description which I also used to do. I still do all the reading myself and all the selection of what to cover.
Q: You have your hand in so many things, all which benefit so many authors and readers. Clearly the chaos energizes you, and as new opportunities arise, they demand more focus. Can you tell us about your publishing company, how you are different from other publishers and how you decide on what to acquire?
A: Zibby Books is designed to put the author at the center of everything. We have a profit-sharing model with each “class” of authors by publishing year so they’re literally all invested in each other’s success. We have Zibby Books ambassadors all over the country spreading the word on the ground. We have an indie bookseller advisory board, an author advisory board, and spearheaded the 22in22.net initiative designed to encourage readers to visit 22 bookstores in 2022. We also have an innovative approach to marketing and partnerships and plan on helping authors try to break out in new ways.
Q: You have read more books than most and I am wondering how you remember what each is about and if you have a system for organizing you can share to help those who have desks that look like a cyclone hit it (asking for a friend😂).
A: Haha. I organize books by color which helps me find them again. I’m a very visual person and that works for me! No clue how I remember. I just do. I wish I could remember other things in life this well like… college!
Q: Can you tell us about your effort to support independent book stores across the country and how everyone can help?
A: Yes, in 22in22.net we encourage readers to visit bookstores 22 times in 2022 with a series of incentives and prizes along the way to make it fun! We have almost 200 partner bookstores now helping us promote this effort!
Q: Are any of your children interested in doing what you do (writing, podcast, publishing)?
A: My son is taking a podcasting class at school which makes me so happy. And my two little guys each have their own Google doc book going. We all sit on the couch and do our writing together. My other daughter is an avid podcast listener and helps with design and visuals!
Q: Which do you prefer playing…singles or doubles? Forehand or backhand? Baseline or net? Who is your favorite player to watch and has your tennis game improved since you met Kyle?
A: Ha! For a good workout: singles. For a fun afternoon: doubles. Forehand! Baseline! Del Potro. YESSSSSSS!
About the Author:
Zibby Owens is the creator and host of the award-winning podcast, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books. Zibby, named “NYC’s Most Powerful Book-fluencer” by New York Magazine’s Vulture, conducts warm, inquisitive conversations with authors as wide-ranging as Alicia Keys and Lena Dunham to Delia Owens and Jennifer Weiner, making her show a top literary podcast as selected by Oprah.com in 2019 and 2020. She also created the Moms Don’t Have Time to Lose Weight community and hosts the accompanying podcast. Zibby is also the Editor-in-Chief of Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, a Medium.com publication.
Before the pandemic, Zibby ran a literary salon, hosted her own book fairs, and was a frequent bookstore event moderator. During the quarantine, Zibby hosted a daily Instagram Live author talk show “Z-IGTV,” a weekly live show with her husband “KZ Time,” launched an online magazine with original author-written essays called We Found Time, and started Zibby’s Virtual Book Club. “Z-IGTV” is now a limited podcast on Spotify and is on YouTube. It has won multiple awards.
Zibby is a regular contributor to Good Morning America online and has recommended books in the Washington Post, Real Simple, and other outlets. She has also contributed to Parents, Marie Claire, Redbook, the New York Times online, and many other publications. She has appeared on CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, the BBC, and many local news outlets. She currently has a two-book deal for children’s books with Flamingo, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and two upcoming anthologies with Skyhorse Publishing: Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology (02/16/21) and Moms Really Don’t Have Time To: A Second Anthology (11/21).
Zibby serves on the boards of the Mount Sinai Health System, the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, the Child Mind Institute, and co-chairs the Library Council of the New York Public Library. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School, Zibby currently lives in New York with her husband, Kyle Owens of Morning Moon Productions, and her four children ages 6 – 13. She always has a book nearby.