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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About the Book:
A bewitching love story that is also an extraordinary portrait of Jerusalem, its faith, spirituality,Jerusalem is a novel of mystery, beauty, historical insight, and sexual passion.
David Bennett is invited to Jerusalem in 1967 by his cousin who, to the alarm of his aristocratic British family, has embraced Judaism. He introduces David to his mentor, Reb Eli, a revered sage in the orthodox community. Despite his resistance to religious teaching, David becomes enthralled by the rabbi’s wisdom and compassionate presence. When David discloses a sexual problem, Reb Eli unwittingly sets off a chain of events that transforms his life and the life of the mysterious prostitute, Tamar, who, in a reprise of an ancient biblical story, leads both men to an astonishing realization. As passions rise, the Six Day War erupts, reshaping the lives of everyone caught up in it.
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After your book was released, what was the first thing you did when getting ready for your book launch?
I made sure the book’s web site and Facebook page were up to date and that my author profiles on Amazon and Goodreads were complete. I also set up accounts so I could advertise on Amazon and Facebook. Then I researched the best options for doing a virtual book tour. I learned a lot from other authors I spoke to.
After that, what was your next step?
I set up a Twitter account and am following a group of writers and others who are interested in the general subject area of my book. I plan to reach out to them to see if they would be willing to review my book. Next step is to begin posting to Twitter to join in the conversation with them, and with others interested in the general areas my book is about (using hashtags.)
Did you do anything different to spice up your website in lieu of your upcoming book release?
Writing seems to be about endless revising! Yes, I reviewed the copy on the web site and revised it. I kept a version of the basic elements – What is the book about? Who am I? and all that good stuff, in a separate file on my computer so that wherever it was going to appear, I had easy access to the latest and greatest version. I find that very helpful.
Did you ever consider using a PR agency to help you promote your book or did you prefer the DIY route?
I did not hire a PR agent. I have not had good results from PR agents in other businesses. I know they can sometimes have a major impact, but my experience has been that the expense is not worth it, particularly as they will not guaranty any kind of results. I have two friends who recently spent a decent amount on PR contracts for books and did not get anything from it. So I prefer the DIY approach.
Were finding reviews a top priority for you and, if yes, how did you approach that?
Reviews are really important. For one thing, they let me know if I am on the right track! Plus they mean a lot to people who are thinking about buying or reading my book, and, depending on where they are published, they can generate a lot of exposure. I sent a copy of the finished manuscript to people I know who have a reputation in their fields and asked them if they were open to reviewing or endorsing the book. I incorporated comments from some of them on the cover of the book, posted them to Facebook, and put them on the web site. Getting reviews is an on-going process. It is one of the main reasons to do a virtual book tour – and being willing to send copies of the book to potential reviewers.
What are your views on social media for marketing your book?
Facebook lets you get your posts (or ads!) in front of very well-defined audiences. Personally, I think it is well worth it. It lets self-publishing authors get in front of different audiences for not a lot of expense, and to see quickly who is responding and who is not. I think Twitter is likely very helpful, too, but I am only just beginning to engage with it.
What social media has worked best for you?
My experience has been confined largely to Facebook. I’ve not advertised on Goodreads, but will experiment with it and other platforms.
Did you write a press release and do you think it worked for you?
I did not write a press release. I’m not sure anyone reads them. I can’t say my decision was based on anything more than I had other things to do and it was “one more thing” and it didn’t make the cut. I could be totally wrong about this one.
Did you revamp your author’s page at Amazon in any way to prepare for the launch (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/)?
Yes. I went over it completely, made sure all the content was up to date. In fact, I have new content to add (thanks for the reminder J)
Did you have other books you offered for free in order to help sell your present book?
No. This is my first novel.
Did you set up books signings and, if so, how did that work for you?
I’ve spoken to local book clubs, done events at the library, and have been invited to expense-paid events across the country. They have gone very well. My book is well received and people want to know whatever back-story I can tell them about it. I also presented at the Jewish Book Council in New York – not a book signing event, but exposure that can lead to invitations to them. I have found that book clubs and talks are more engaging and productive for me, as an unknown author, that book signings.
Did you time your book launch around a certain holiday?
I did not time the launch in any way – I was not nearly that sophisticated about the business! However, Night In Jerusalem is a love story set with the Six Day War as its backdrop, and the book came out the year Israel is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the end of the war and the unification of Jerusalem.
What was the best money you ever spent on your book launch?
The online social media, and attendance at the Jewish Book Council event in New York.
Any tips for those authors wanting to set up a successful book launch?
When you have a small promotional budget (who doesn’t?) it is not that effective to try and reach all of America with your message. Better to reduce the people you are trying to reach to a manageable number and then put all your resources into that group, and write your messages with that group in mind. Social media can let you target audiences with great precision. And the degree of specialization in web sites and other online publishers lets you collaborate with people who can help you reach your readers. So my main tip is - spend the time to draw your bullseye, and then focus everything you do on it.