Dec 10, 2021 • 45M

How to Build a Literary Life: Episode 293 with Zibby Owens

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

Ever want to know “how she did it”? This episode is our little version of How I Built This, in which we ask Zibby Owens—whose name you surely know by now—about how she turned a desire to be part of the world of books into a one-woman mini book empire.

Zibby Owens is the host of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read, a daily podcast featuring interviews with authors that has over 900 episodes. She’s also a Bookstagrammer with 16K followers, the host of a second podcast—Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Sex—the editor of two anthologies, Moms Don’t Have Time To and Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids—KJ contributed to that last one—and now the CEO of Zibby Books, a new publishing home for fiction and memoir. She’s a regular contributor to Good Morning America, she’s been called “America’s Top Bookfluencer” and she has two books coming soon: Princess Charming, a picture book, and Booked, a memoir. She’s also got four kids, and they’re kids—elementary and middle school age, not a bunch of independent high schoolers wandering around


Five years ago Zibby was none of those things (except a mother of four). And that’s what I want to talk about. She’s built a massive literary life, a community, a reputation in just a few years, and—after totally owning the fact that she has help with her kids (heck, not just help, they’re completely gone every other weekend because, divorce sometimes works like that) and also that this isn’t how Zibby earns a living— we go back to the beginning and talk about what it took to get there.

Because no matter who you are, you can’t wake up and say, I think I’d like to be America’s Biggest Bookfluencer, and whip out your Amex card and make it happen. You can’t even take your Kardashian self and decide this is what you want and ask your assistant to set it up. This takes work and desire and passion, and we dig into how Zibby started, and how she made things take off.

Links from the pod:

Lee Carpenter: Red, White, Blue and Eleven

Andre Agassi: Open

Zibby Books

Zibby Books Ambassadors (at bottom of Zibby Books page)


Zibby: Going There by Katie Couric

Hungry Hill by Eileen Patricia Curran

The Husbands by Chandler Baker

The Last Season by Jenny Judson & Danielle Mahfood

KJ: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Jess: Speaking of Race by Celeste Headlee

Hey cupcakes, KJ here. Tonight I chatted with a writer who has a memoir that might—or might not—be ready to pitch. It’s hard to know the answer to that as a writer without getting some professional feedback (and you don’t want to pitch before you’re ready). So of course I pointed them toward Author Accelerator’s book coach matching services. The right coach can help get your project ready and then help you pitch it to the right agents. It’s an investment—but you’ve already invested HOW many years in this? I say go for it. And if you’d like to be the one to help writers make that leap, look into book coach certification. I loved the process—and I love knowing how to really help.