Zibby Owens is known for her podcast, Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books, gaining recognition everywhere from Oprah.com to New York magazine. In 2020, she decided to put together a related anthology, a collection of essays covering topics we all deal with—parenthood, fitness, sex, etc…aka life! Moms Don’t Have Time To: A Quarantine Anthology, was recently published by Skyhorse Publishing, and has already been called one of the Best Books of 2021 for Working Moms by Working Mother magazine. Zibby recently appeared on Good Morning America to talk about her work. We asked Zibby to share a bit more about her background, book, and upcoming projects.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a native New Yorker, a mother of four, a podcaster, CEO, entrepreneur, author, essayist, chocolate chip cookie addict, tennis lover, photography fan, and a divorced and remarried mom. Professionally, I started my career in advertising, brand strategy, and marketing at firms like Unilever, Young & Rubicam, Ogilvy & Mather, and idealab!. After Harvard Business School, I decided to switch gears. I’d lost my best friend and former roommate on 9/11 and decided that if I was going to die at my desk, the way I believed she had, I had to do something that would bring my whole self into whatever I was doing. I wrote a memoir, a novel, a fashion/fitness book, freelanced for magazines, worked part-time as a Weight Watchers Leader, had twins, helped start a daily deal site for moms, blogged, wrote, had two more kids, got divorced, launched a crumb cake business, wrote many parenting essays, and then started my podcast, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.
Wow, that’s quite a journey. For anyone not yet familiar, can you please share a bit more about your podcast?
Sure! I interview five (sometimes seven!) authors a week on my literary podcast designed to be an intimate conversation that will let readers get to know authors and help busy caretakers – like moms! – get their literary digest. Fast.
Love that. How did you come up with the concept – and the name?
I was writing a lot of parenting essays when one evening, my husband said, “You should really write a book of all those parenting essays.” I rolled my eyes and said, “Moms don’t have time to read books!” I laughed and said, “Wait! That should be the title of my book.” I ended up not trying to sell that book but instead, took the advice of a girlfriend, bestselling middle grade author Sarah Mlynowski, and started a podcast. As a lifelong reader, I figured I would try to interview authors even though when I started I only knew about three!
Who has been your favorite guest?
My favorite guest was my dad! It was so neat to be able to show him what I did while helping promote his book.
So cool. What makes a fabulous podcast and what one are you loving right now besides your own?
A great host! I love Jo Piazza’s new podcast, “Under the Influence.”
Why are podcasts such an amazing tool for moms?
Moms can listen while they do everything else! It can give even the most bored, depressed, overwhelmed stay-at-home an intellectual jolt and immediate connection to remind her of who she really is under all that diaper cream. And for the busy working mom, it’s an efficient escape and an emotional outlet. Women really thrive on connection and learning from others. This medium is like an entire category devoted to conversation. It’s perfect.
How did you decide to create an anthology?
I actually wanted to start a website at first, like a Goop for moms. When the pandemic hit, I’d already commissioned many essays by authors from my podcast. I turned it into an online magazine called We Found Time and release five essays a week with the help of editors Claire Gibson, Elissa Altman and Carolyn Murnick. After almost three months, mid-summer, I decided the world had gone back to normal enough that moms didn’t need that magazine any longer. In September, I looked back to see how many essays I’d released, copied and pasted them all into one big document, found the word count and released, “This is a book!”
What was your favorite part of that project?
Hearing the innermost thoughts of authors I truly admire.
What are some of the essays that you love the most?
I love Ashley Prentice Norton’s reflection on her book club, Chris Bohjalian’s essay about his writing as a child, Rene Denfeld’s musings on being homeless, Elissa Altman’s fear of quarantining with a narcissistic mother, and my own essays (hahaha).
Do you have any tips that have helped you as a mom get through the pandemic?
Coffee. And more coffee. No, actually my tip is to keep looking down. Every time I started looking into the future, even the next day, I’d get overwhelmed and upset. Someone once said, “Keep your mind where your feet are.” That’s how I made it through. One minute at a time. Plus any time I really needed to get out, I’d open a book.
Great advice. What’s next for you?
I just announced the Moms Don’t Have Time To Fellowship in which I’m sponsoring two to four authors per year with editorial coaching provided and publicity via my platform. My inaugural class includes Meghan Riordan Jarvis, Mireya d’Angelo, Rev. Lydia Sohn, and Cristina Alesci. On November 2nd, my second anthology comes out: Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids. I have a children’s book called Princess Charming coming out in March 2022, and a second book in that series later. I’ve also recently started Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, a publication on Medium, and am launching a new short-form podcast called “Wake Up and Write.” I’ll continue to host Moms Don’t Have Time to Lose Weight. Plus I have a lot more brand extensions planned, plus I’m trying to write a memoir this summer. And I run Zibby’s Virtual Book which meets every other week!