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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed business woman and author Zoe Thompson about her career, her motivation, her latest book, The Build It Brilliant Template, and her advice to inspire others.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I’m a born and bred Northern Lass, I grew up in the rural village of Whalley in Lancashire but for the last 12 years I’ve lived near Leeds. I spent a few years of my life further south, but I’m always drawn back to the hills, and the warmth of the people in the north of the UK. Twice I’ve revolutionised my life, taking big leaps of faith to follow my dreams and build a life that I love. When I’m not busy with my business you’ll find me touring Europe with my husband on our motorbikes or with my head lost in a book.

Zoe Thompson, author of The Build It Brilliant Template, interview on The Table Read
Zoe Thompson, author of The Build It Brilliant Template

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I’ve always felt that someday I’d write a book but for so long I didn’t know what I would write about. I had some ideas here and there, but nothing seemed to grab me.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I’ve been writing blogs and articles for my businesses for years, sharing my thoughts and expertise with the world but the first time I really gave any serious thought and energy to the notion of writing a book was in November of 2020.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The idea was forming in my mind in October of 2020, I sat down to begin writing by the end of that month, I finished the book by the end of January 2021, and I published it in April 2021. It took 7 months from concept to published.

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What made you want to write The Build It Brilliant Template?

I had been running a few webinars introducing people to my 4 step Blueprint for a few months and they had been going really well but people wanted more information. There was only so much I could give in a 1-hour webinar, and I wanted to offer more support.

The global Covid pandemic had hit, and I support people in the helping professions to use online technology to grow a brilliant business. The doors to most therapy rooms had been closed so I felt I could really step up and show them how they could support their clients in alternative online ways.

What were your biggest challenges with writing The Build It Brilliant Template?

I feel my biggest challenge was finding the time to write. I already had a busy calendar with work, I tried writing in the evenings but that just wasn’t working for me. I found a few hours wasn’t enough, by the time I’d got into it, it was time to stop.

Instead, I decided to book a few days at a time and create a ‘writing retreat.’ Once it was 3 days together, other times it was just 1 day. This meant I had to work harder the other days to fit everything in but at least when it was time to write, I was focused and everything else was switched off.

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What was your research process for The Build It Brilliant Template?

Zoe Thompson, author of The Build It Brilliant Template, interview on The Table Read
The Build It Brilliant Template by Zoe Thompson

I have been working as a therapist myself for the last 10 years and before that as an e-learning specialist. This book was more a culmination of my learning from all my experience rather than something I specifically researched for a book. I did research the process of creating a book such as publishing vs self-publishing and formatting options.

How did you plan the structure of The Build It Brilliant Template?

The 4 step Blueprint made formatting the book easy. The first part was an introduction and the explanation behind the Blueprint, the middle part went through the Blueprint step-by-step, and the last part was how people could then implement the Blueprint into their business. I have to say for me the plan for the book was the easiest part.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Build It Brilliant Template need?

Firstly, I did an edit myself, once it had been written and I thought it was ready. I had a break for a week or so and then read the manuscript with fresh eyes. Then I enlisted the help of two colleagues who are also friends. One matched my ideal reader, the other has a particular passion for grammar. I asked the first to give feedback on flow and content. The latter I asked to read from a spelling and grammar point of view. They both were amazing. Then during the launch period, I asked if anyone would like a pre-launch copy, in return for feedback and a review. I sent out 6 copies and those people were fabulous for the final checks, spotting the odd thing here and there.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

Separate out the creative writing and the reviewing/structuring. Each of these requires a different skill. First allow yourself to write, get it all out of your head and down on paper. Give yourself permission to enjoy it, have fun and be free. A little bit of structuring is necessary to keep you flowing but don’t focus on it. Once you feel it’s all down move on to reviewing, editing and restructure everything.  Keeping these separate makes it a lot easier.

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Zoe Thompson, author of The Build It Brilliant Template, interview on The Table Read
Zoe Thompson, author of The Build It Brilliant Template

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I have a couple in mind. One is on the mindset of business, in my therapy work I helped people overcome habits and fear and I’d like to share my expertise in a structured way for my audience.

The other is a complete passion project, I’m currently doing some research into my family’s history, they once owned a Calendar House in Lancashire. It had 365 windows, 52 room and 12 chimneys, it was pulled down after the second world war. The more I learn about it, the more I want to capture it as a story for generations to come. I’m open to see where my research takes me.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, when I see the book on the shelf with my name on it, I feel proud. There’s something amazing about people saying, ‘I’ve read your book and its really helped me, thank you.’ Every time it makes all the hard work feel worth it.

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