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more marvellous

It’s been just over three weeks since we got A Marvellous Party from the printers. We’re very pleased to say that – in those three weeks – with sales via our website and through author Ian Elmslie getting out and about with the book, we’ve already sold almost 200 copies of this our latest publication.

On top of that, we’ve had the first magazine review – a glowing, full-page spread – in Boyz. There’s been a meeting at Birmingham New St station to pass more boxes of books from publisher to author, while enjoying coffee and pastries. Ian has been invited to read from A Marvellous Party to an LGBT youth group in London, and exchanged stories of experiences.

All this, and we’ve only just begun. Thanks to each and every one of you who’ve bought a copy of this heartwarming book already. So much done, and there’s still two months till A Marvellous Party is officially published. Wow!


marvellous

The party has landed! A Marvellous Party – our new book, written by Ian Elmslie – is now here. In fact, it’s not just here – as any self-respecting party should, it’s got out and about already. Copies are in the post to flats and houses all over the UK, they’re making their way to Spain and Germany, and a big boxful are flying out to the States as I type this blog.

A Marvellous Party arrived on Tuesday, with the rain. This meant a lot of scurrying from pavement to hallway, hallway to pavement and back again till all the boxes were safely squirrelled away in Ignite Villas. Two hours later, we were on a train to London, taking a goodly number of books down to an impatient and excited author. On arrival, we learned that three boxes of books take up more space than is ideal on an evening rush-hour Tube, that dragging 35kg of weight from tube train to escalator to the bottom of a flight of stairs (stairs?? oh god…) is overrated, that whichever exit to the surface you use will be the one furthest from the bar where your author is waiting, and that the pint of beer you have once you’ve got your breath back may well be the best thing you’ve tasted in your life.

Since then, we’ve been fulfilling all the advance orders and plotting publicity campaigns. This morning, we finally had the chance to sit down, draw breath, look at what we’ve achieved, and revel in a sense of great pride at helping bring this beautiful, delightful, entertaining, book into the world. It really is very, very good.

Oh, and if you’ve missed out so far, you can get your copy here. Be sure we’ll pop it in the post as soon as we can.


passion

There’s one thing driving force which underpins everything we do here at Ignite: our love of stories. We’re absolutely passionate about work which has something to say about the world, about how we find our place in it, and – above all – about the extraordinariness of our everyday lives.

Conventional wisdom would look at the time and effort we put into creating our books, the hours, days, and weeks we spend working with our authors so that the end product is something remarkable they’ll always look on with pride, and ask ‘is it worth it?’ Our answer is a simple and resounding Yes! Sure, the bottom line is important – and we should point out here that every single one of our books has turned a profit of some sort or another – and of course we’d love to see the hourly rate for our work come somewhere closer to reflecting the effort we put in, but putting our heart into each and every one of our publications is absolutely central to who we are and what we do.

Human beings have always told stories, and listened to stories. They’ve shared their experiences over a beer, or across a garden fence, or round a campfire. It’s one of the better things our species does. We take huge satisfaction from Ignite’s involvement in continuing that tradition, and in giving a platform to voices which might otherwise remain unheard.

Just over a year ago, Ian Elmslie came to us with his manuscript for A Marvellous Party. We read through it, and knew this was very definitely a story worth the telling. Since then, he and Ignite have worked together to hone his tales into 320 wonderful pages, and in the next few days we’ll be sending the book files off to the printers. Shortly after that, a pallet packed with cartons filled with copies of this brand-new book will arrive at Ignite Villas and we’ll start posting them out.

Those of you have ordered copies already – which shows you’re just as excited about this book as we are – can expect A Marvellous Party to drop through your letterbox soon after July 15th. It will be marvellous. It’s a party, it’s a celebration, and it’s a reflection on what it was like to grow up as a young gay man in 20th century Britain. It’s a beautifully written, candid tale of love and loss and carrying on. It has much to say about fame, and stars, and our shared human condition, and it’s much, much more besides.

Be ready to clear your diary, to sit down and read this book. Trust us, you’re going to love it.


new broom

Welcome to the new all-singing, all-dancing Ignite website! We hope you like the new look (it’s easier on the eye for those of us who have to surf cyberspace in our reading glasses) and we think the cleaner, less cluttered appearance reflects what Ignite is all about. Yes, flim-flam can be entertaining, but we’re aiming for content over that.

All the great reads you’d expect from us are still there, so if you’ve been meaning to grab a copy of one of our books for your friends, it’s just as easy to do so. (If you find any issues, please let us know!)

Oh, and we’ve some great new books in the pipeline for 2017. So watch this space!


up for a prize

It’s always nice to have some good news to share, and we’re proud as punch to announce that Ignite author Carl Stanley is one of the twelve authors on the longlist for this year’s Polari Literary Prize.

If you haven’t yet got your hands on a copy of Carl’s book Kiss & Make Up, you’ve been missing a treat. Candid, hilarious, and outrageous by turns, it’s a glorious romp of a read, the story of a schoolboy from Smethwick who ends up as make-up artist to the stars. Interwoven with this – and what gives the book so much of its power and appeal – is a familiar tale of estrangement, conflict, and reconciliation, a tale which Carl tells with skill, sensitivity, and wit. Oh, and there’s the unforgettable meeting with Mrs Thatcher, too…

Kiss & Make Up is available via Gay’s The Word bookshop in London, Prowler in London and Brighton, and from all good bookshops, as well as online retailers, and – of course – via our website. A Kindle edition is also on sale.

We wish all the longlisted authors the best of luck! The Polari Prize shortlist is announced at the end of July.



australia

This time last week we found the largest box we could, packed it with copies of City Baby, took it to our local agent for an international courier, and sent it on its way. A few days later it arrived safely in Perth, Australia. Which is kind of handy, because that’s where we hoped it would end up.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Western Australia, this is your chance to get your hands on a copy of City Baby – and get it signed by the author, too. Because on Wednesday 24th, UK punk legends GBH kick off their tour of Australia and New Zealand at the Rosemount in Perth, and the chances of getting Ross to sign a copy of his book after the gig are somewhere between high and excellent. As long as one of you has a pen.

After Perth, the tour heads on to Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Canberra before nipping across the Tasman Sea to play in Auckland and Wellington. Books will be on sale at each and every gig, and the merchandise stall will happily take cash or card. If by some chance the stock sells out, you can still order a copy of the latest edition from our website. Just click here. But we can’t promise Ross will have signed it.

A great tour just got that little bit better, Australia. Lucky you.



the only way

Excuse us while we spend the next few paragraphs blowing our own trumpet. And possibly mixing metaphors, but hey, what’s the point of rules if you can’t ignore them every now and then?


Ignite has always been about nurturing new talent, about giving new authors a chance to see their work in print and know that it’s being put in front of an appreciative audience. Because it goes without saying that unless people are actually reading the stories they’ve poured their heart and soul into, it’s all a bit of a waste of time. The kudos of getting your book published is all well and good, but – in honesty – that thrill wears off pretty quickly, and all of us want something more.

Since we started out, every single one of our books has broken even. That’s not the only measure of their success, it’s not even the best measure of their success – in our (not so) humble opinion that’s the connection they make with each and every reader – but it’s a decent benchmark by which we can show we’ve done our job properly. It’s a collective confirmation that we were right when we read the manuscript and thought there were people out there who’d want to read it. The proof of this particular literary pudding is that people have read it.

And for a small company like ours, it’s also vital. Making money on each book is what allows us to go forward and make the next one. There’s no getting away from the importance of profit and loss when you’re running a business.

So we’re very pleased to announce that Kiss & Make Up has joined all our other publications and now broken even. That’s worth a little celebration. We also know that breaking even isn’t the end of things, but only the start, and that we need to kick on from here. Oh, and if you haven’t read Kiss & Make Up yet, you really should. What are you waiting for?

And if you hear music coming from the direction of Ignite Villas, it’s because we’re having a little party to celebrate what we’ve done. A little bit of Yazz.

Because the only way… is up. Baby.



number four

As any small, independent publisher will tell you, the work they do is largely a labour of love. What drives us? There’s probably as many different reasons as there are publishers, but we’re fairly confident that first and foremost among them is a passion for seeing good stories – which might otherwise never see the light of day – get their chance to find their audience.

In honesty though, the rewards rarely match the work involved. Publishers know this, and still we do what we do. Maybe that’s down to blind faith and ignorance, and if ever an auditor or bean-counter presented us with a spreadsheet of hours put in against money gained as a result of those hours, the scales would fall from our eyes and we’d chuck it all in for a better-paid job stacking shelves in Aldi. But I doubt it. Because we’re not measuring the success of what we do purely by the cold, dead numbers on a balance sheet. Passion and engagement and bloody-mindedness figure in there too, and as soon as you add them to the equation the spreadsheet becomes a different beast entirely.

None of this means we don’t dream of, or aim for, success. While passion may keep us going, you don’t have to be in this game long to realise that passion plus money is a sweeter combination. And the satisfaction that comes from having backed a book which no-one else had taken on, and then seeing that book come good… That’s unbelievably pleasing.

Which is why we’re overjoyed to be starting sales of the fourth print run of City Baby. We knew when we first sent the proofs to the printers that Ross’s story was an absolute cracker, but we never expected it to enter a fourth print run – and have a US edition launched as well – within two years of its original publication*. That is truly something worth celebrating. And something we’ll remind ourselves to remember next time the balance sheet looms large.

*If you’re wondering what’s so special about the story of a punk rocker from Birmingham, then we can only suggest you read the reviews, and then buy the book. You won’t regret it.



raising a toast

Time for one last blog from us here at Ignite before we take our leave of 2015 and wave it a fond goodbye. As years go, this has been another exciting and successful one, although it’s fair to say it hasn’t been without its difficulties too. 2015 proved to be the year where social media – and Facebook in particular – made a series of changes to the way it worked, all of which made it far more tricky for small businesses like ourselves to keep in contact with the people who support us and buy our books. To be honest, we haven’t yet found an alternative which quite fills the gap these changes left (cue an opportunity to remind you we do send out a newsletter every couple of months, and you can sign up to that here). But we’re working on it, and we confidently expect to get something in place sooner rather than later.

Highlights of the past twelve months at Ignite Villas have been, first and foremost, the publication of Kiss & Make Up, the delightfully outrageous and candid memoirs of make-up artist to the stars, Carl Stanley. With reviews from Marc Almond, Toyah, and Lorraine Kelly (among others) this was always guaranteed to be a sizzling read. The launch party in Soho was everything you’d hope it would be, and Carl’s readings at Polari on the South Bank in London and MAC in Birmingham were evenings to remember, making Kiss & Make Up a superb addition to the Ignite roster.

In the autumn, the US edition of our best-selling City Baby – published by our friends at Bazillion Points – finally went on sale. These things always take longer than you imagine, but the adage that good things come to those who wait was never more true: with a re-designed cover, additional photos, and an explanation of some of the more impenetrable Brummie slang for punk rock fans across the pond, Bazillion Points have put their own distinctive twist on an already fantastic book. If you live in North America and want to get your hands on it, you can do that here. On top of that, as we sit writing this, we’ve all but sold out of the latest print run of the original edition of City Baby, and have literally just a handful of copies left. We don’t have hands like shovels either. This means that one of our first jobs in 2016 will be to order the fourth – yes, fourth – print run of City Baby. An amazing achievement. Our thanks to everyone who’s bought a copy, told us how much they enjoyed it, or recommended it to their friends. You rock. As, indeed, does Mr Ross Lomas.

While we’re at it, an honourable mention should also go to Steve Pottinger’s book of poems more bees bigger bonnets. Published in May, and described as ‘hard-hitting, human, and humorous’ by Attila the Stockbroker, it ended the year being mentioned in The Times Higher Education supplement as one of the two books of the year chosen by economist Richard Murphy (here’s the link) because it ‘delivers hope’. A fine accolade for any book. And one we’re particularly proud of.

And finally… we didn’t just spend the festive season knocking back the advocat, munching mince pies, and eating our own weight in sprouts. Amongst all the frenetic eating and drinking we found time to do a little work on the digital versions of some of our books. This means two things. One: we can happily announce that the kindle edition of City Baby now includes many of the photos found in the print version (it took us a while to work out how to do it) and you can buy it here. Two: there is now, for the first time ever, a kindle version of Kiss & Make Up on sale here. And very nice it is too.

***To celebrate the creation, arrival, and launch of this digital Kiss & Make Up, we will – for one week only – lower the cost of printed copies to match it. From Jan 1st to Jan 7th, a book bought via our website will cost just £6.99 inc p&p. Be sure and tell your friends!***

2016, and we’ll be hitting the ground running, because that’s what we do best. We hope the coming year brings every one of you much love, laughter, and happiness. Life is too short for anything less.

Slàinte!



wordy weekend

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already over a week since we were at the Louder Than Words festival in Manchester, and we’re tumbling headlong towards Xmas. Organised and run* by the ever-active John Robb and the redoubtable Jill Adam, whose boundless energy and enthusiasm is a feature of the weekend, it’s definitely one of the highlights of our year.
LTW is unique in its intention to give a platform to the very best in writing about music, and brings together under one roof – that roof belonging to the delightful Palace Hotel in central Manchester – a series of interviews with authors who’ve written biographies of musicians, musicians who’ve written their own, discussions about the rise, fall, and legacy of musical genres, and panels whose aim is to open up any and every area of music to the enquiring minds of anyone who cares to listen.
What we saw and listened to over the weekend was largely governed by the presence of our stall in one room of the festival – it sprawls over four or five – but all of it was good. We learned more than we ever imagined we’d wish to know about prog rock, and found ourselves actually enjoying it (yes, we really did write that sentence, although we can’t quite believe it either). We listened to Karren Ablaze talk about Riot Girrl, watched Steve Ignorant and his Slice Of Life put spoken word to music, and heard Pauline Black of The Selecter – so interesting we could have listened to her all day – talk about how race, music, fashion, and politics shaped her life.
But we weren’t just there to sit on our proverbial and be entertained, dear reader, fun though that was. On the Saturday afternoon we took part in a discussion panel about something very dear to our heart: independent publishing, the highs and lows, the problems and pitfalls, the fun, and the bloody hard slog. It was a chance for us to share our experience and offer some pointers to others, but it was also a very welcome opportunity to listen to the experiences of Karen Ablaze, and Ian of Route (who’s been at this publishing game far far longer than either of us and has more useful information at his fingertips than we can begin to imagine).
We also sat alongside music biographer and all-round good egg Zoe Howe to judge the poetry slam. Packed to bursting with new talent, it was heartfelt, passionate, skilful, and a joy to be part of. Which rather sums up what LTW is all about. If you’re interested in music or writing about music, then there’s no better festival. We can’t recommend it highly enough, and we’re extremely proud to have been part of it. If, for some inexplicable reason you’ve failed to make it part of your life as yet, do yourselves a favour and book it in your diary for next year.
You won’t regret it. And we’ll see you there.
*we mean the festival, although it’s fair to say they’ve got it in them to make a good go of running Xmas, too.



baby goes west

Those of you with long memories may remember that at the start of this year we proudly announced that we’d signed an agreement with a US publisher for a North American edition of City Baby. It was going to be amazing, we told you. It would have a new cover, extra photos, and it would translate some of the hard-to-understand UK slang into something a little more digestible for folk who live on the other side of the pond. Get ready, America! we said. This is going to blow your little socks off. Oh, and it’ll be with you by mid-May.
Now, given that we’d prefaced that announcement by confessing that we’re regularly surprised that things take longer to get done than we imagine, you might think we should have guessed that by setting the publication date so definitely in stone we were setting ourselves up to fall flat on our face. Our rueful chuckle at our own exuberance – and the link to that blog is here if you want to see exactly what we had to say – should have come with a healthy dose of small print and a truckload of loopholes. In triplicate. And then we should have thrown in a handful more, for luck.
Things take longer than we think, we said. Little did we know how right we were.
2015 is almost over. May came and went. Summer drizzled by. The days got shorter and the nights got longer. The Rugby World Cup and Halloween are both history, Donald Trump’s wig is still weird, and Xmas is lumbering over the horizon. Our facebook posts and tweets about the book are so old they’re currently being studied by archaeologists. Where, you might wonder, is this fabled US edition? Is it ever going to arrive??
Well…. we’ve finally got news. Good news.
We’re very very very happy to announce that the US edition of City Baby is now on sale. Yep, right now. At this very minute. In what we are, optimistically, calling ‘very late May’. Our thanks go to Bazillion Points for all the work they’ve put into creating a new twist on our best-selling publication. It looks amazing. And we know the story’s an absolute cracker. The wait may have been a long one, but we can guarantee it’s worth it.
If you’re one of the thousands of GBH fans in North America, you can now order a copy of the US edition of City Baby here. That’s good news. The even better news is that if you get your skates on and order it now, you can take advantage of their special discounted price and get a free “I bet that never happened to the Clash!” button badge too. What better reason do you need?
Just in time for Xmas, too. You’d almost think we’d planned it.
(Those of you elsewhere in the world can still get signed copies of the original edition from our website here. Perfect gifts for your favourite punk rock afficionado.)



louder than words two

The weekend of November 14-15 is a busy one for us. For those of you in the Midlands, our author Carl Stanley is reading at the Polari Literary Salon event in Birmingham (you can read more about that by clicking here). At the same time, we’ll be making our way north to Manchester to take part in the very wonderful Louder Than Words festival in the splendid George Hotel in the city centre.
We were lucky enough to be asked along to LTW last year, and when they offered us the opportunity to be part of what they’re offering this year as well, we bit their metaphorical hand off. Once again, we’ll have an Ignite stall with copies of all our books at specially discounted festival prices. You’ll find signed copies of our best-seller City Baby, of course, as well as the outrageous, funny, moving and uplifting memoir Kiss & Make Up. We’ll have poetry by Steve Pottinger, and some very special offers on our other stock. The stall will be up and running from Saturday morning through till Sunday afternoon, and we don’t doubt you’ll find something there that takes your fancy.
On top of that, we’ll be taking part in a panel about independent publishing. Look forward to us explaining how we fell into it, the highs and the lows of trying to make it pay, the blood, sweat, and tears involved, and our plans for the future. Or, as LTW put it: ‘This is…a distinctive opportunity to hear and engage in conversation with a range of Independent publishers, to hear first-hand the drivers behind their work, the motivations and ambitions that underpin their approach and how their business activities fit into the literary landscape more generally.’ Wow. Either way, it’ll be on the Saturday evening at 5.30pm, and it’ll be well worth catching.
Ignite’s involvement doesn’t stop there. Once again, poet Steve Pottinger will be performing in the Post Room. You’ll catch him at 2pm and 5pm on the Saturday, and again at 2pm on the Sunday. It’s poetry for people who think they don’t like poetry, and it’s rather bloody good.

For anyone who cares about writing, and writing about music in particular, LTW is a festival which should have been inked in your diary long ago. It’s unique. In a good way. If you haven’t got tickets yet, you can get your mitts on them here, and we strongly suggest that you do. We’re looking forward to going along, catching up with old friends, meeting people who run other small presses and sharing our hard-gained wisdom and our experiences, and having a bit of a laugh. If you’re there, pop by and say hallo. We’re always up for a natter and a chinwag.
See you there!



polari

If you’re in Birmingham next weekend, you’re in for a treat. On Saturday November 14th, Ignite author Carl Stanley will be at the MAC in Cannon Hill Park, taking part in the Polari Literary Salon evening. This is part of Birmingham’s SHOUT festival, which aims to bring the finest in LGBT writing to the city.
Anyone who’s seen Carl read – either at the Bloomsbury event where we launched ‘Kiss & Make Up’, or at the Polari event on London’s South Bank this summer – will already be aware just how engaging and captivating a reading from him will be. They’ll also be able to vouch for the fact that any excerpts he chooses from his candid, outrageous, and moving memoirs of a boy coming of age in a dysfunctional family in 1970s Birmingham will be excerpts well worth hearing!
If you’re in Birmingham on the 14th, we suggest you put this very special event in your diary. Last year, it sold out, and we’ve no reason to believe this one will be any different. If you’re not in Birmingham but know people who are, please let them know about it so they don’t miss out. Because then they’ll only hate you, and that would never do.
Finally, those of you who can’t make it there can still buy copies of Carl’s book here.
And tickets for the Polari Literary Salon event are on sale here.
Both of them are well worth the money.



gems

There’s a lot to be said for trying something different. Yes, sticking to what you know can be comforting, but if you keep doing the same old thing, you’ll get the same result. More importantly, you’re very likely to get bored. And that does nobody any good at all.
Which is why we were so happy to head into Walsall last Saturday and visit Southcart Books to take part in Southfest, a day of music, book launches, readings, conversation, laughter, and crisps. And fresh samosas. And Welsh cakes, as it happens. But mainly it was about book launches and readings, and a bunch of writers and artists and people who are busy trying something different rather than sticking with the same old same old, all gathered together in one place, sharing ideas and experiences and munching hot samosas.
You could call it ‘networking’. But that makes it sound cold and calculated and like a lot of hard work, whereas really it was what we in the West Midlands know as a bostin’ day out, with added chocolate biscuits and cake. Writers, publishers, and bookshop proprietors – like armies – march on their stomach, and Southcart were determined that no-one would go hungry on their watch. In that, as in so much else, it seems they succeeded. Because Southfest was, indeed, a perfectly formed festival in a wonderful little bookshop.
What Southcart show is that, with graft and determination, it’s possible to put on a barnstorming event in the back street of an unfashionable town* and make it a day to remember. They set up book launches by two local authors, then gave other Walsall writers – whose stories and tales were every bit as enthralling – the opportunity to read. Then they added acoustic sets from local musicians to the mix. And on top of that there were samosas and crisps and soft drinks and wine.
Imagine a world where that was happening in every town, all over the world. Then look at what goes on in Walsall, and know it can be done. It was a pleasure and a privilege to take part in Saturday’s event, to talk a little about Ignite Books, to listen to the work of some very talented writers, and to play a small part in encouraging them in their craft. We wish Lucy Onions and James Josiah all the very best with their novels ‘Shout the Call’ and ‘C90’ and we’d urge any of you reading this to buy a copy and support young authors starting out in the world of writing. And if you’re in Walsall, nip down to Southcart Books and help a wonderful small business thrive.
Southfest. One day, all book launches will be this good.
*we’re from Walsall, so we can say this.



walsall

We’ve said it before, but it’s a lot of fun being an independent publisher. Sure, the workload can be immense, but we’re doing something we love and are passionate about, and that more than makes up for never getting anywhere near the bottom of our to-do list. We’ve helped publish fantastic stories by great writers who are lovely people, and that’s incredibly satisfying, a privilege, and a joy.
But it’s not just about us. Running Ignite also brings us into contact with other small, independent businesses, all of whom are just as enthusiastic and driven about what they’re doing. It brings us opportunities to share our hard-earned knowledge, to pick other people’s brains, to step outside the bijou whirlwind of our own activity and see what someone else is doing, and how they’ve found a route through the challenges every small business faces. Where we can, we work with them. Why? Simply because together, we’re stronger. Oh, and because it’s a lot of fun.
All of which is by way of explanation as to why we’re so very pleased to be part of the incredible event at Southcart Books in Walsall on Saturday 17th October. Woven round the theme of music in literature, at the heart of the day are two book launches celebrating the publication of work by Walsall authors, Lucy Onions and James Josiah, whose work we’re really looking forward to hearing. On top of that will be readings by other local writers, and if all that isn’t enough, there will be live music from local bands. The whole day promises to be a veritable tempest of talent and tunes, and we heartily recommend you put it in your diary.
Ignite’s contribution to what has the makings of a very special day is as follows:
Steve Pottinger will be talking about what it was like to work with Ross Lomas of GBH on the story of his life, the best-selling City Baby. He’ll also read a couple of excerpts from the book, to give a flavour of Ross’s roller-coaster life in the world of punk. Signed copies of City Baby will be on sale on the day, Ross Lomas himself will be on hand to add personal messages if you want them, and Jock of GBH will be there to add some music to the mix with his band Balsall Heathens. All this and more, and it’s absolutely free – though we do suggest you come down with pennies in your pocket so you can support James, Lucy, and Southcart. It’s their day, after all.
We look forward to seeing you at Southcart on the 17th. Our thanks go to Lucy and James for allowing us to hop on board and be part of their launch, and to Southcart Books for doing so much to promote local literature and authors in Walsall. Long may they continue to do so! If you want a copy of the poster promoting this event, drop us a line at hello@ignitebooks.co.uk and we’ll fire one over. Alternatively, feel free to share this blog with anyone and everyone you can.
It’s going to be a great day, and we’d hate for anyone to miss it.



poster (5)


satisfaction

We really do love what we do. We’re very aware how lucky we are to publish incredible books by wonderful authors who tell stories which make the world richer – and how privileged we are to get such positive feedback from you, our readers. On a scale of 1-10 for job satisfaction, running Ignite scores somewhere in the mid-30s. There’s a long, long list of jobs we’ve done which struggle to get above zero, so we hope our enthusiasm is understandable!
What we’re saying is that while running Ignite is hard work, it’s very much worth it. And if we were ever in any doubt about that, our stock check over the weekend blew that doubt away. To our delight and amazement – and we did check the figures – City Baby is just a few dozen copies away from selling out for the third time. The third time!! We can scarcely dare believe it. We’re also very very pleased. Ross’s larger-than-life, moving, and engaging story of life in Birmingham punk band GBH is one of those books which you simply can’t put down. A proper punk page-turner. Trust us, we never get tired of people telling us that!
If you haven’t read it yet, or you know anyone who wants a copy or deserves one as a present, remember that copies of City Baby ordered via the Ignite website will arrive signed by both Ross and Steve. Our shop link is here. Alternatively, you can always get your hands on a copy through your local bookshop, or from online retailers. hive.co.uk pay their taxes – others may not.
The weekend stock check turned up more than the good news about City Baby. We’re also very happy to announce that we’ve finally all but sold out of Joolz Denby’s dark, powerful novel Wild Thing. A mere handful of copies are still available from our friends at the NMA Shop, and our very good friends Arcane Publishing have a few copies at their unit in West Bay in Dorset, but unless Joolz finds another box under her bed, that’s the lot. Those of you lucky enough to have read this book already will know what a treasure it is. The Kindle version will still be available once those last few copies at the NMA Shop have gone, but if you want an analogue copy, you’d best get your skates on!
As news go, that’s not a bad start to the week, eh? Like we said, mid-30s for satisfaction. And rising.
Eat your heart out, Mick Jagger.



autumn

We woke this morning to mist and the crisp air of autumn. Which is wonderful. And the turning of the seasons is also a sign it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves after the summer break and get back to what we do best, which is promoting our books. And – as you know – we’ve some wonderful books to promote.
As a small publisher, it’s especially gratifying that sales keep on trickling in throughout the year. Even while we’ve been out enjoying the sunshine (and dodging the raindrops) this summer, we’ve been regularly posting out books to individuals and bookshops who’ve placed orders. City Baby, which is still our best-selling publication, has now sold over three-quarters of its third print run. We’ve all but sold out of Wild Thing. And our latest book of poetry more bees bigger bonnets is doing very nicely, too.
All good news. Above all, Carl Stanley’s captivating, outrageous, and sensitive memoir of family strife and personal discovery, set in Birmingham in a world of sex, drugs, and rocknroll* remains one we’re hugely proud of. Sadly it didn’t make it onto the Guardian Prize long-list for first books from new authors, but we’re convinced that’s simply an oversight on their part. Kiss & Make Up is an enthralling read, and one which has received plaudits from such notables as Marc Almond, Toyah Willcox, and Damian Barr, among others. Readers love it, too. You can read their comments on it here.
Yes, that’s an Amazon link, but you can buy a copy from any bookshop, from our friends at Gay’s The Word, or online from ourselves or hive.co.uk. And you can read a review from Spindle magazine here. The book is brutally honest about life in a dysfunctional family and about growing up gay in a society which could still be viciously homophobic. It’s also very very funny, and – as several commentators have noticed – worth buying for the photo of Carl with Mrs Thatcher alone. Oh, and the story of how that photo came about is worth a read, too.
Finally, if our books have enriched your lives, please tell your friends. Word of mouth is vital for small companies such as ours. And on that note, we’re off out to pick blackberries, make plans, and enjoy the autumn sunshine. We’ll see you soon.

 

*actually the New Romantic scene, but let’s not quibble.



plates

Back in those far-off days before we’d umbilically attached ourselves to the internet, back when there were only three television channels in the UK and we were still getting used to the decimal system, way back then there was a kids’ TV programme called Blue Peter*. 

Every series seemed to feature John Noakes skydiving, coat hangers transformed into an Advent decoration, Fairy Liquid bottles (with the logo blanked out so as not to advertise the brand) being cut up with round-ended scissors, and – without fail – some bloke attempting, live in the studio, to smash the world record for keeping the largest number of plates spinning on poles at one time. In ’70s Britain, this was about as exciting as life got.
Running Ignite is a bit like keeping those plates spinning. Mastering the art of getting a new project off the ground while making sure none of the others crash and burn. Giving each of them sufficient of your attention and trying to make it look effortless while you do. Responding to what’s going on around you and trying not to be distracted by John Noakes cackling in the corner or Shep biting at your ankles (UK in-joke which will mean nothing to the rest of the world.)
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that we’ve made a few small adjustments to what we’re doing with a couple of our books. Anyone wanting a copy of Carl Stanley’s Kiss & Make Up will find we’ve dropped the price so that it’s now just as cheap to buy direct from us as it is to order it from Amazon, and everyone buying the Ross Lomas story City Baby direct from us will get a copy signed by both him and Steve. And why not? It’s summer after all.
And for those of you intrigues about just what this plate-spinning looked like, here’s an excerpt from Blue Peter in later years, complete with dodgy music and equally dodgy hair. Enjoy!
*Blue Peter still exists, if we’ve fired up your interest.



keeping in touch

The other week we got an email from someone who wanted to sign up to our Facebook page. They had a simple question: Where was it? They’d searched high and low through Mr Zuckerberg’s creation, but Ignite Books wasn’t showing up anywhere.
Now, we’ve long been aware that Facebook don’t make life easy for small businesses – posts we make get shown to a tiny fraction of the people who’ve ‘liked’ us – in order to push us towards paying to promote our posts. What they totally fail to understand is that we’ve done an analysis of the costs and the benefits, and come to the conclusion that the costs are all ours and the benefit is all Facebook’s, so we’ve chosen to turn down this ‘opportunity’ and live with the fact that our page is, sadly, less and less useful.
This new development came as a bit of a surprise, though. We’d never anticipated that Facebook would actively prevent someone who wanted to ‘like’ our page from being able to find it. We’re not quite how that fits in with their proud boast that ‘we help you connect and share with the people in your life’, but there you go.
We hope this information explains why we don’t provide a link to the Facebook page on our website. It’s not – as the person who contacted us seemed to think – because we want to make life difficult for people who are interested in what we do, but because we’d rather direct you to other media which won’t actively stop you seeing what we post. Our Twitter account at @IgniteBooks is far more active, and we recommend you keep up with what we’re doing by following us there. Yes, we’re aware that this isn’t a perfect solution – not everyone has, or wants, a Twitter account – but in our opinion it’s a better option than Facebook. We also send out newsletters once a month or so, and you can sign up to them here: newsletter sign-up.
We’ll post a blog more obviously related to our books very soon. Honest.



kiss and run

We’ve had some great book launches over the years. Our first book, Joolz Denby’s The Curious Mystery… was launched in an evening of poetry and music in Bradford. City Baby came kicking and screaming into the world in a pub in Birmingham. And yesterday, on the longest day of the year, we celebrated the launch of our latest publication – Carl Stanley’s outrageous, raw, and hilarious memoir Kiss & Make Up – in a packed bar in the heart of London.
The evening was as wonderful and vibrant as any we’ve been part of. Conversation flowed over a backdrop of 1980s New Romantic tunes; we had live music from Maggie K De Monde (formerly of Birmingham band Swans Way) and her husband Leif; and then Carl took the stage to applause and wolf whistles, to talk about the club scene in Birmingham back in the day, about his love of dressing-up, and about running the gauntlet of trouble in the city centre in a ballgown. And barefoot. Then he read an extract from his book, to an audience who were both enrapt and enthralled!
Next there was a Q&A with the celebrated Dusty ‘O’ who’s known both Carl and his mother Janet for over 30 years, and – finally – there was a moving and searingly honest speech from Carl’s mom which brought the house down. There are many reasons to buy this wonderful book but it’s giving nothing away to say it’s worth getting your hands on it for Janet’s contribution alone. There may even be an unexpected bonus picture of Mrs Thatcher in there too (we couldn’t possibly say).
Then it was back to the music, the laughter, and the drinking to round off the perfect launch for a wonderful book. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came and made it such a special evening, and our very heartfelt thanks to the small team who put in the hard work which made it possible. It was an evening to treasure. May there be many more.



glorious

On April 30th we took delivery of our latest book from the printers. It’s a thing of beauty. The cover is a riot of colour and exuberance, the design is elegant and flawless, and the story is wild, outrageous, and deeply moving by turns. If you haven’t heard of Kiss & Make Up by Carl Stanley yet, believe us, you soon will.
Over the last week, we’ve sent out copies to papers and magazines who want to review the book – yes, we will be drawing your attention to the reviews when they come out, have no fear about that – and now we’ve started posting out the books ordered by those discerning people who’ve decided to get in early and buy a copy pronto. You see, although Kiss & Make Up isn’t officially published till June 21st, you can get your mitts on it this very minute by clicking on this link here.
For the next few weeks, the only other place you can buy the book is the Gay’s The Word bookshop in London. We chose them as our outlet for two reasons: one, because there couldn’t be a more appropriate retailer for this book; two, because – as an independent publisher – we do our very level best to support other independents without whom the world of book-selling would be so much poorer. We’d encourage you to do so too. If you really want to wait a few weeks in order to hand your money over to the all-consuming monolith that is Am**on, we won’t stop you, but we would suggest it’ll do a lot more good (and make a lot more difference) if you channel the money via your local bookshop, wherever that may be. Or buy a copy from our website, where a far larger percentage of your money will end up recompensing the author who wrote this splendid tale in the first place.
The choice, of course, is entirely yours.
Whatever you decide, from early June you’ll be able to order Kiss & Make Up from all online platforms and any bookshop you choose. Then you’ll find out for yourself just why this book has already received glowing endorsements from Marc Almond, Toyah Willcox, and Damian Barr (among others). This book will make you laugh, and cry, and get up and dance to the playlist. And then read it again.
You’re going to love it. Mark our words.



good writing

One of the reasons we love good writing is that it can take you anywhere. That’s why you see people reading on the morning commute, or sitting on the Tube, their nose thrust into the pages of a book, busy being anywhere but where they are. You open a book and slip away from the everyday and the mundane into some other world – be it brighter, more comical, more dangerous, more surreal. The choice is yours and the possibilities are endless.
Escape, education, entertainment or enlightenment – good writing can whisk you away from the same old same old and drop you slap bang in the middle of any one of them, all at the turn of a page. The power of a writer’s imagination meets the power of yours, and even though you’re in bright sunshine on the beach, the thriller you’re reading chills you to the bone. Five minutes ago you were bored, but now you’re enthralled by the comic tales of hapless lads abroad, and the tears are rolling down your face. You’d never given a moment’s thought to what life on the other side of the world would be like, but now you feel like you’ve been there. It’s so obvious it barely bears saying, but just as you don’t have to have been a scottish junkie to enjoy Trainspotting, you don’t need to be feeling miserable to be moved by stories which are sad, or dark, or which evoke a visceral fear.
It’s an amazing power, this combination of words and imagination. It can open up worlds, take you away from the people around you, and connect you with characters you’ll never meet and make them real. It is – in a very real sense – a kind of magic. You open a book, dive headlong into the printed word, let the writer lead you somewhere you may never have dreamed existed, and return changed, seeing the world through different eyes.
Publishing – at least the way we do it – is about finding the stories that make us dream, which take us somewhere we never expected to go and make us want to go there again. It’s about us trusting that there’s an audience out there who’ll want to go there too. Each and every time we bring a new book into existence, it’s an act of faith. An offering. An adventure.
At which point you might expect us to give you the old hard sell about one – or indeed all – of our books. But that’s not what this is about. Consider it a little nudge, a gentle reminder to treat yourself to the gift of good writing. Whether you go to a bookshop or a library, a website or a charity shop, make time this week to immerse yourself in some good writing and the countless alternative worlds which lie within the covers of a book. You won’t regret it.



beautifully formed

When we set up Ignite we had bags of enthusiasm, and no real idea where our adventure would lead us. The one thing we were absolutely determined of was that absolutely all our publications – whatever their subject matter, and whoever wrote them – would have one thing in common: that they’d be books we’d want to read. We took that decision, we’ve stuck with it ever since, and we’ve never regretted it. Every single one of our titles is a book that we’re proud of, and we believe the stories and the writing we’ve put before you can stand their ground with work put out by anyone. We’ve the reviews to back it up, and – thankfully – we’ve the sales to prove that enough of you think so, too.
Picking and choosing our titles so carefully can mean that there’ll be months when we publish nothing, not because the offers haven’t been there, but simply because we haven’t found anything quite right, haven’t come across manuscripts we simply can’t put down, or writing which leaps off the page. As soon as we find something we think is worthwhile, though, we spring into action, and right now we’re on a bit of a roll….
At the start of this month, we published ‘more bees bigger bonnets’, the latest volume of poems from Steve Pottinger, and – we think it’s fair to say – his best yet. it’s already had one glorious review from the music and culture website Louder Than War (you can read it here) and another on respected poetry website Write Out Loud (you can read that one here). These come in addition to the praise from leading poets Tony ‘Longfella’ Walsh, Joelle Taylor, and Attila the Stockbroker among others (all of which you’ll find here). And now, the ‘21st century poetry’ column in the Morning Star has rated it as ‘a strong and timely mix of rant and ridicule, condemnation and comedy’. Here’s the link to that one. In the meantime we’d simply point out that ‘more bees…’ continues our tradition of publishing top-notch work, costs about the same as a couple of pints of beer, and that we’re more convinced than ever that this is poetry you really owe it to yourself to read.
Steve’s book was our first publication since City Baby – although it’s fair to say that its success has been enough to keep us busy over the past eighteen months – but we’re pleased to say you won’t have to wait another eighteen months for our next one. The proofs for ‘Kiss & Make Up’ are already at the printers, and with any luck we’ll have it with us by the start of May, well before its publication date of 21st June. We’re excited about the prospects for this book. Very excited. Expect a blog all about it very soon.
Two fresh titles in a matter of weeks, each of them confirming our reputation for putting top-quality writing and story-telling before you. Ignite may still be small in the grand scheme of things, but so what? We’re small, but beautifully formed.



words and macchiato

We’re starting 2015 on a bit of a roll. 
A few weeks ago we were able to tell you about the US deal for our publication City Baby (scroll down to the blog american baby to read about that). That was our first piece of good news for the year. But we haven’t stopped there. Oh no. We’ve been busy. We’re working on putting together proposals for a couple of very interesting projects which we can’t possibly tell you about just yet – yes, you’re right dear reader, we are a tease – but if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s never to count our chickens before the eggs have hatched. That, and the art of being a tease, clearly. 
There is one piece of good news which we’ve been sitting on for months, though, and which we’re now ready to share. Are you sitting comfortably? Good.
Here – with a fanfare of trumpets, some blazing fireworks, and a smidgeon of pumping dance music – it comes. 
We’ve a new author joining the Ignite roster. 
Please give a big warm welcome to Carl Stanley.  
We get sent a lot of manuscripts. As a small publishing house, it’s not always easy to read them all, but we do our best to find time to do that, and to write back to the prospective authors. After all, when someone’s put their heart and soul in to a piece of writing and then sought us out and sent it to us, the least they deserve is some kind of response. Some of the manuscripts are way too rough, and some are not quite ready, and – just once in a while – we get one which grabs our attention, which shines out like a diamond. Carl’s manuscript was one. It made us laugh, it made us cringe, it took us on a misty-eyed trip down memory lane, and it moved us to tears. Quite an achievement, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Months have slipped by since then. As always, the process of bouncing the manuscript back and forward between Carl and ourselves – for editing and tweaking and adding some paragraphs while ruthlessly chopping others – has taken way longer than you might think. But now, finally, we’ve got there. All that’s left is one final read-through to check spelling and sense and punctuation (a slow, painstakingly forensic process requiring industrial quantities of strong coffee) and we’ll be ready to start typesetting the book ready to send it to the printers.
As soon as we have a publication date for Kiss & Make Up, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, you’ll find information about Carl in our authors list.
He’s an outstanding addition to our posse of new writers, and we know you’ll enjoy his book. 
And now it’s time for coffee. Words and macchiato, it’s how we roll.