Zibby Owens has interviewed nearly 1,000 authors in about 3 ½ years for her popular podcast, “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” (don’t let the title fool you: They do have time to read books, they just need a curated list of recommendations to help them cut through the overwhelming number of titles). Over the course of such conversations, and countless other opportunities to witness the publishing industry up close, an idea began to take shape: Why not start her own publishing company, and do things a little differently?
Last week, the NYC native announced the start of Zibby Books, which she will launch as part of Zibby Owens Media with publishing veteran Leigh Newman. Starting in January 2023, Zibby Books will publish 12 books a year, a mix of memoir and fiction from debut and established authors.
“I figured if we published more than a book a month, I’d just be competing with myself for readers’ time,” says Owens. “Plus I want readers to not only read our books, but all types of books from all types of publishers in different genres. Some of the books we’ve acquired already are by people who I’ve told, ‘You should write a book!’ ”
It is notoriously difficult for authors to get attention for their books; in the past few years, Book Twitter has become a place where authors frequently cheer on each other’s titles while also promoting their own. Zibby Books aims to make that kind of friendly collaboration part of its business plan. “Authors have banded together informally on social media and in other ways to address the seemingly insurmountable odds of an individual book breaking through,” says Owens. “Authors also know great writing when they see it. Why shouldn’t they be the arbiters of talent? Our author-influencer network will show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
There will also be a Profit Sharing Bonus Program, in which 75 percent of all net profits for each calendar year will be split equally between Zibby Books employees and authors. In addition to advances and author royalties, the authors will receive the profit bonus for their publication year and their first year of backlist, as well as any years during which their book has outsized sales results.