Written by JJ Barnes
As part of my author interviews series, I interviewed the inspirational author and business woman Jo Bevilacqua. She told me all about her work and career, her advice to motivate others, and her self-help book; No Longer Last On The List.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Jo Bevilacqua. I’m a mum of 2, wife, and award winning entrepreneur with three successful businesses; Hallmark Carpets and Flooring, which I set up in 2009 whilst on maternity leave with my first daughter; Serenity Loves, a hair and beauty salon with an onsite crèche, which I founded whilst I was heavily pregnant with my second daughter, and finally Jo Bevilacqua Mentoring (previously The Unique Mumpreneur) which is a mentoring business helping women grow their businesses.
With over 12 years of experience in business I’ve been through many highs and lows, and through this it’s become my passion to help others, not only within their business, but personally as well. When working with business owners I assist them through the good, bad, and ugly of the business world, through my One to One sessions, Mastermind groups, and Membership Hub.
I’m all about realism, and cutting the BS when it comes to business and the pressures of life in today’s society. I want to share real experiences and help people acknowledge that yes, having your own business can be incredibly rewarding, but that it’s a tough process, and things don’t always go to plan! It’s something I make sure to talk about with all my clients, and include within my blogs too!
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’ve wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. Especially after overcoming a lot of barriers I’ve experienced, and after going through the process of finally putting myself first, it’s always been important to me to make sure people get to go through the same experience! As well as to help people get the most out of their lives and live the life they deserve.
After working primarily with women for the last five years I was hearing the same struggles everyday, the feeling of having to have it all and do it all. The pressures to be there for everyone else resulting in them losing themselves, becoming exhausted and feeling like life was happening to them not for them. Many wanted to make a change but didn’t know how or if it would be possible for them.
When did you take a step to start writing?
It was always hard for me to even begin writing a book, juggling being a mother and running my own businesses, I always felt I never had the time to do it. But funnily enough, the pandemic was the catalyst for me to begin writing. Although my businesses took a hit just like many others the pandemic gave me the motivation to finally crack down and get my ideas onto paper as I could foresee the effects that Covid was going to have on women as a whole.
How long did it take you to complete No Longer Last On The List from the first idea to release?
I began writing my book when the pandemic hit, so it took me just under a year of writing it, re-writes, edits, and design until I was happy with it, to then be released on October 12th 2021! It was a long process, but it’s so rewarding to see my book and my story helping others prioritise themselves and work to get the life they deserve.
What made you want to write No Longer Last On The List?
The main motivation for writing this book was the fact that I wanted to simply help others. I’ve pretty much been through it all, and feeling how rewarding it is to prioritise you, and give yourself permission to put yourself first was something that I wanted to help others experience too.
Another thing that spurred me to write my book was that I did an activity in one of my mastermind sessions, and I asked the members to write out their priorities so we could see where they put themselves on the list. And only 2 people actually considered themselves on the list, whereas the rest of them didn’t even include themselves. That really put into perspective the sad reality of how some of us feel sometimes, and seeing it first hand, not only from myself, but from other people I know, really pushed me to write this book.
So many people are stuck in an idealistic world, or stuck in a rut with their life and are struggling to get anywhere. I’ve been there too! This is just another reason I wrote my book. To help people get a sense of reality, and have more time to do the things they love.
I wanted to make it clear exactly what self care really is. It’s not just spa days and going out for lunch! It’s about taking the time to consciously work on yourself and strive to be the best possible version of who you are! It’s about looking at our environment, thinking about what is important to us and if our current life and the people in it serve that want.
No one is perfect, so it’s important we allow ourselves to accept our mistakes and learn from them, which is a huge part of self care too. Learning self-care and self-fullness is a process, just like everything else, so I wanted to create the book as a way for someone to read and go through the journey with me supporting them every step of the way.
What were your biggest challenges with writing No Longer Last On The List?
To be honest, the biggest struggle was probably actually getting my ideas down onto paper. It’s easy enough to have all these ideas in your head, but I underestimated the process at first and I found it very difficult to actually manage to write my ideas in a way that made sense, and properly convey my messaged they way I wanted it to come cross.
I wanted to put EVERYTHING into the book but had to remember that it could be overwhelming for the reader so had to put in the things that would help them make changes right now, the things that they were ready to change, NOT a multiple of changes or eventuality for the rest of their lives.
Writers block was quite common for me. Especially touching on quite sensitive topics throughout my book, it’s important that I wrote things in a way that were real, and authentic, but also that people would understand and be able to relate to.
What was your research process for No Longer Last On The List?
Most of what I wrote was drawn from my own life experiences and research that I had completed, be It online or the lessons I learnt in person from others. As a self care book, I felt it had to be completely authentic and genuine from me and my own real experiences. As I’ve said, what I like to focus on most is realism, and cutting out the BS, in life, and in business. So it was incredibly important to me to make sure i was sharing genuine stories that people will resonate with, and help them realise that they’re not alone.
Of course for anything, I had to do some research online, not necessarily for content help, but simply how to write a book anyway! This was new experience for me so it was important that I did my research to make sure it was the best it could be.
How did you plan the structure of No Longer Last On The List?
I went to a friend’s house who owns a publishing company and we sat in her garden summer house with a bottle of wine to talk through what I wanted to achieve with the book. An hour later we had the chapter headings for the book written out on to scraps of paper, I thought I would edit them a number of times but they never changed! I guess sometimes we just need that help and space to talk though what is in us already.
A week later my mentor helped me put the chapters in order to create a journey that worked for the reader. From there I bullet pointed what I thought needed to go in to each chapter. That helped me with the structure and allowed me to just write without giving it too much thought.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did No Longer Last On The List need?
There was a lot of editing involved, done by my editor who did a fantastic job. In fact we were rewriting sections literally on the last day before the release! I went through tons of re-writes and drafts right up until the last minute which was definitely another struggle of mine. I needed to accept that every time I read it I could make changes so I just needed to stop. Setting all my launch dates and print dates in advance helped me to get it down and sent over. Without them I feel l could have edited it another million times!
I also had a small focus group that read the book and gave me feedback before we went to print! I would definitely recommend this if anyone is going through the book writing process. It’s always good to have multiple perspectives to allow for new ideas and constructive criticism.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Probably quite a simple bit of advice, but sometimes that’s the best kind! I would simply say, go for it! A huge part of prioritising yourself is throwing yourself into brand new opportunities. If you want to write a book, WRITE ONE! It’s not an easy process, but it’s so rewarding at the end of it and I know writing my own booked massively helped other people around the world is one of the most rewarding things in the world. As they say, everyone has a story within them, you just need to get it out there, it cannot help any else if it is in your head.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’ve got no immediate plans to write another book just yet, but it’s definitely a possibility for the future! I have chapter ideas on my phone which I started to brain dump the day I submitted Longer Last On The List to the publishers, ha! But I want to get that book out there as much as possible first before starting another.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am incredibly proud of my accomplishment. I think people are so quick to shrug off their achievements because they don’t want to seem arrogant or big headed. But I believe you have to give yourself credit to yourself where it’s due!
It feels amazing to see people with my book and hear that it’s genuinely helping them, not only with their business, but with their personal life too! It’s so rewarding to see others making changes and putting themselves first, after being inspired by me. This of course, makes every second of the process worth it! And I’m proud of all the other incredible women taking action and doing what makes them happy!
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