John Köehler, author, graphic designer and founder of Köehler Books Publishing, understands the frustrations of authors who, despite the quality of their writing, have found there is no place for their work in the limited landscape of publishing. traditional. Tired of the agents’ waiting game and the author’s lack of control over the publishing process, Köehler began publishing his own books in 2004. His titles include a collection of his art, a reflection on life with a bipolar disorder and numerous works of fiction.
When several of his author friends saw the quality of the finished books, they wanted to participate too. And thus, a hybrid publishing house was born. Only when he started Köehler Publishing in 2010, Köehler says, he didn’t use the term “hybrid press.” Instead, he preferred “co-editor”. The nickname goes to the heart of what matters most to Köehler and the mission statement behind his eponymous platform. “We believe in working closely with our authors…collaboration is key,” he says. “It’s because the author is the most competent person, the expert for the job.”
Köehler primarily publishes non-fiction, although he also hosts novels. That said, the house doesn’t publish all submissions — in fact, it’s very selective, publishing less than 20% of submitted books. Köehler points out that the quality of the writing is the most important ingredient that goes into a successful book. And if this quality is not present in the work from the start, it is a difficult pass. “The biggest piece of the iceberg is quality,” says Köehler. “Readers as a group cannot be fooled.”
For Köehler, the benefits of publishing with a hybrid press are numerous. Writers can expect to get their books to market much faster than if they had gone the traditional publishing route. It also gives authors greater participation in editing and creative development. And publishing with Köehler offers authors something that is perhaps even more valuable: the knowledge they need to protect the integrity of their work and find their readers.
Among hybrid publishers, Köehler stands out in particular: in addition to hybrid publishing, the house offers traditional publishing contracts to select books, i.e. around 5 to 10% of the titles published each month. For Köehler, this helps establish his credibility in a publishing world that still harbors a certain skepticism towards hybrid houses, and it allows them to showcase deserving titles.
Another benefit of publishing with Köehler: If a title sells a combined 2,000 or more copies of e-books, print editions, and audiobooks, including copies the author buys from the publisher, the author is offered a traditional publishing deal for his next book. The occasion serves as additional motivation for writers to defend their work. Which is not to say that Köehler’s authors are left alone to promote their books. In addition to a full range of in-house services, including editing, cover design and distribution via Ingram, Köehler provides strong marketing support, which Köehler personally takes very seriously.
“I’m the marketing guru,” says Köehler. “After publishing over 1,300 books and talking to many agents, I’ve learned a thing or two.” He even added to his own corpus, with two books on book publishing and marketing…The pocket guide to book marketing and The pocket guide to publishing. Both are free to download from the website.
From development to publishing and promotional campaigns, Köehler Books Publishing remains transparent every step of the way. Authors can see exactly what they’re going to spend before they begin their publishing journey. And if they have questions or want to compare their experiences with other authors, there’s a community there to support them. Köehler hosts a private Facebook page solely for this purpose. Via the Köehler website, authors and readers can even vote on their book cover design options.
Beyond the house’s all-encompassing approach to publishing, Köehler’s books speak for themselves, as do their successful and satisfied authors. According to author Betsy Ashton, “Writers who are fortunate enough to sign with Köehler Publishing experience a true partnership between writer and publisher, and writer and publisher.” It’s a well-deserved endorsement for a publisher who, through a commitment to quality, integrity, and community building, truly meets the moment for today’s authors.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 12/09/2022 issue of Weekly editors under the title: “Co-edition” with Köehler Books