Author, book influencer, and Moms Don't Have Time to Read podcaster Zibby Owens will launch her own press, Zibby Books, as a division of her company, Zibby Owens Media. Launching the imprint with Owens is Leigh Newman, the former books editor of Oprah.com, cofounder of the Catapult imprint Black Balloon, and senior editor-at-large at Catapult.
Zibby Books plans to release one book per month, with a focus on fiction and memoir and with "a commitment to diverse literary voices," starting in January 2023. Ingram Content Group's Two Rivers Distribution will distribute Zibby's list.
Newman will serve as president and editorial director, and the press has hired Jaunique Sealey as v-p of strategy and book club; Maya Shanbhag Lang as v-p of editorial and strategy and former Vintage/Anchor publisher Anne Messitte as consulting publisher. Aside from Messitte, the entire staff is composed of published authors—a key aspect of the publisher's business strategy.
“I’m beyond thrilled to be working with a phenomenal team of (mostly!) women from all different backgrounds to bring authors and readers together in a whole new way, putting authors at the center of everything,“ Owens said. In a statement, she added: “Our strategies across author deals, bookselling, marketing, and community will hopefully help move publishing into the 21st century and benefit all authors, not just ours. I’d love nothing more than for other publishing companies to adopt any and all of our ideas.”
Those ideas include a unique method of payment for authors and employees alike. A “profit sharing bonus program” at the press will divide 75% of all net profits from Zibby Books in each calendar year equally among each employee and author. Authors will still receive traditional advances and royalties, and will receive the profit bonus “for both their year of publication and their first year of backlist, as well as in any years during which their book has outsized sales,” the publisher said.
In addition, Zibby will hire “book lovers and fans on a hyper-local level to serve as sales ambassadors with built-in financial incentives.” It is also hoping to attract established authors to help mentor authors and promote titles “from inception to publication” in exchange for an equity stake in their chosen book, which the publisher called an attempt at “turning the influencer model on its head.”
“We want all authors under the Zibby Books umbrella to feel—and be—invested in each other’s success,” Newman said. “All employees from the copy editor to the v-p of marketing play an equally important role. Producing books is a team effort.”
Newman added: “Our mandate is simple: accessible, inspiring, conversation-making book club titles—built around an active, engaged community. We're taking our books where the readers are—not where we wish they were—and in the process we are honoring our authors, from profit-sharing to open communication to deeply granular social and marketing. Zibby Books may break a few traditions in publishing, but that's what is so exciting about working with such a passionate, innovative team.”