Zibby Owens has been called the Oprah of the podcast world. And rightly so. Her incredible podcast, “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” was nominated for a Lovie Award, the European version of the Webby Awards! Please vote it up here for the People’s Choice by October 3rd. She writes fabulous articles, she has great reading suggestions (who else would suggest books by emotional issue?), she organizes events, and she's just, well, cooler than cool.
I'm so happy to host her here. Thank you so much, Zibby! And your book recs to me were right on the money!
I don’t know anyone who does so much for books—and in such an inviting and cheerful and creative way. I love your podcast Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books because honest to God, you READ the books of your authors and ask the smartest questions. How did this podcast start?
It started in such an offhand way! I had been writing a bunch of parenting essays and my husband one night said, “Maybe you should take all your parenting essays and make them in to a book!” And I replied, “Ugh, moms don’t have time to read books!” Then I said, “Hey, that could be a funny title!” I ran the idea past a few agents - who disagreed! Then an author friend, Sarah Mlynowski, suggested to me over coffee that, “You should really start a podcast.” I responded, “What’s a podcast?!” After that, I researched what else was out there and decided to try one with that same title!
I also really love the essays you write, first because not only are they beautifully written, but they all have a feel to them, as if you are sitting across from us at a café, over coffee, casually opening up your heart and letting us see the contents. I loved the essay about the psychic, the essay about sending your son off to boarding school (Oh God, wait until college, though I will tell you, they DO come back. Altered, but they are still yours in many important ways.) Do you think of an audience as you write? (I can’t or I freeze up, but you seem much more self-possessed than I am.
I don’t really think about my audience. As you said, I just write from the heart. I write so that I remember how I felt. I write to share my experiences with others so that we can all go through life a bit more connected! But no. When I’m actually writing, I’m not thinking about an audience at all.
You have written about food, health, being a mom, but oh my God, this article about how to hook poor time readers really was full of fabulous innovative ideas, especially about a book show that isn’t boring. (https://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook/how-hook-time-poor-readers-16-tips-publishers-booksellers-and-authors-824356) I love the idea of putting out reading samples for people to get hooked and then buy the book. I think Dearreader.com does that, or they used to, but we need more places like that. I admit I’ve left books at doctors’ offices myself, Do you think authors should be posting little teasers from their own books on their social media pages?
I think that would be great!! Or videos of them reading a chapter and answering some questions!
OK, we have to talk about your VIP book curator service. (I’ll put this link in: https://zibbyowens.com/swag/vip-book-curation-service). What strikes me about this is how much fun you are clearly having doing this (and, of course, what a blast for the person who hires you.) So what surprises you when you do this? And tell us about how you devise reading plans for people? How accurate are you?
Um, no one has actually bought this yet!!! But I do offer personalized book recommendations to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. As you know, I just did yours!! They’ve been building up in my inbox but I finally got back to everyone. I love seeing what my listeners have been reading and what they’re in the mood for. It helps me get a sense of what’s popular and what isn’t … and what people think of certain books! I love connecting individually with fellow book lovers!
You really really help the writers’ community, (which I try to do with my blog and by being just as helpful as I can be.) And you seem to do everything. What are you really dying to do next that you haven’t done yet? Does anything scare you?
I’m dying to open a bookstore and I think I may have found a partner to actually accomplish this! I would also love to do more with TV and write a book or two myself! Does anything scare me? Something happening to my kids.
Holy Moly, Mother of God, I was about to order 40 Love when I saw you gave it up and started over. You have to tell that story. And PS, the cover is great. I know this is a question that all writers hate, but I’m going to ask you anyway…how is the writing going?
This project is on hold for now. I’ve tried writing it as a memoir and in two different styles as fiction. I’m going to revive at some point and I’ve been toying with a new plot in my head. I might just try to make it into a great essay! If you want the whole story, we might need to have that coffee!
I also love that you have and showcase books you wrote which stayed on the shelf. All writers have those! Jonathan Evison talks about the 6 novels he buried. I couldn’t throw away a novel I wrote, which couldn’t sell, but I was able to cannibalize sections of it and put it in another novel later on. So all is never lost. Will you go back to those books, do you think?
I think I can find a new life for some of them in another form!
What’s obsessing you now and why?
Um… chocolate chip cookies, per usual!!
What question didn’t I ask that I should have?
What question didn’t I ask that I should have?
Maybe just something about how I get it all done!? And for that I have to credit my husband, Kyle Owens of Morning Moon Productions, who inadvertently led me to start the podcast and is my #1 fan and champion with literally every thing I do. I get his advice on everything from article titles to guests on the show to… everything! Also my kids have been amazingly supportive and are super into the whole thing. It would be impossible to get anything done if they weren’t enthusiastic about what I was doing.
Podcast: Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books
Instagram: @zibbyowens; @momsdonthavetimetoreadbooks
Facebook: @byzibbyowens; @momsdonthavetimetoreadbooks