Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy Talks Publishing & Marketing

Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy worked as an actress and writer in film and television in the United States and Israel. Night in Jerusalem is her debut novel, which she has adapted to film. She lives in Ojai California with her husband and daughter.

She writes, “I lived in Israel in the 1960s, a naive twenty-year-old, hoping to find myself and my place in the world. The possibility of war was remote to me. I imagined the tensions in the region would somehow be resolved peacefully. Then, the Six Day War erupted and I experienced it firsthand in Jerusalem.

I have drawn Night in Jerusalem from my experiences during that time. The historical events portrayed in the novel are accurate. The characters are based on people I knew in the city. Like me, they were struggling to make sense of their lives, responding to inherited challenges they could not escape that shaped their destiny in ways they and the entire Middle East could not have imagined.

I have always been intrigued by the miraculous. How and where the soul’s journey leads and how it reveals its destiny. How two people who are destined, even under the threat of war and extinction, can find one another.

Israel’s Six Day War is not a fiction; neither was the miracle of its victory. What better time to discover love through intrigue, passion, and the miraculous.

Writing this story was in part reliving my history in Israel, in part a mystical adventure. I am grateful that so many who have read Night In Jerusalem have experienced this as well.”

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Thank you for this interview. Take us through the process. You had an idea for your book, you wrote it, then you decided to find a publisher. What were your experiences with that? Or did you decide to self-publish without looking any further?

I decided to self-publish. My previous work has been in film and television, and I was not involved in the promotional side of things.  I don’t know much about book promotion and there is a whole lot of work to do there. Fortunately, I have a partner who is well-versed in it, otherwise I would be lost.

What different online stores carry your book?

Amazon.

Do you think that having your book self-published makes any difference to the media? Are they open to interviewing self-published authors or reviewing their books?

Yes, I believe they are open to interviews given how many writers choose to self-publish. The difference is self-publishing requires the author to reach out on their own, an get a good promoter to help!

Authors who go the traditional route have an edge over self-published authors in regards to distribution to bookstores. How did you handle that as a self-published author?

I sent a copy of my book to bookstores, offering to do a reading, and signing of my book. They seemed to really like that. It certainly helped to sell books.

On the other hand, self-published authors have the edge over traditional books in the regards that the author has all the control. I’d like to begin with your cover. Did you make it or did you have someone else design it? If you had someone else, can you tell us who it is?

I found the photo of Jerusalem which reminded me of the time and place in which Night In Jerusalem takes place.  I then had photographer, Chris Jensen photo shop the cover to create the hues and lights in the windows.

Did you get someone to format it for you or did you do that?

Russell Martin formatted the interior and helped with the cover as well.

What was the hardest challenge for you to self-publish your book?

I had no idea how pivotal an editor is. After working for months, on and off, with the editor of Night In Jerusalem, I would never consider publishing a book without a strong and talented editor. So, for me, self-publishing does not mean going without professional support; it means you must take the initiative yourself to find the right professionals to partner with.

How to get people who read it write a review.

I discovered most readers don’t like writing reviews even when they love the book!  It was easier getting other authors to write a review because they were sensitive to the process.

What steps are you taking to promote it?

Everything I possibly can. This year I am listed in the Jewish Book Council, and The Historical Novels Review. I am also working with a book promoter, which has proven to be a wise decision.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other self-published authors?

My previous work has been in film and television, and I was not involved in the promotional side of things.  I don’t know much about book promotion and there is a whole lot of work to do there. Fortunately, I have a partner who is well versed in it, otherwise I would be lost. For me, self-publishing does not mean going without professional support; it means you must take the initiative yourself to find the right professionals to partner with.

In my experience, it takes talented professionals to produce a good book – starting with an editor and then a designer. Fortunately, these people have not all been captured by publishing companies. You can get to them directly and, with their help, turn out a first-class work. After that, promotion is another professional skill – you can either learn it or hire it! Self-publishing does not mean you do everything yourself!

If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?

I would take more time in the editing and proof reading before publishing as there were mistakes even after several reviews by editors and proof readers. If you look at most published writers you can see how many people they thank for these crucial services.

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