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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. 



american baby

You’d think by now we’d have learned things always take longer than you think, but no. Old dogs, new tricks, and all that. Even four years in to running Ignite, we’re capable of telling ourselves it’ll take ten minutes to write a blog, then finding it eats up half the afternoon. Or we’ll set aside a week for reading a manuscript, but still be ploughing through it nearly a month later. And you know what? Every single time comes as a surprise.
All of which is by way of an explanation. We spent the autumn filling social media with one excited status after another, all promising Big news coming soon! And then…. nothing happened. You’d have been forgiven for thinking we were making it all up. We weren’t. We were just busy forgetting – again – how long it takes to make the move from this-seems-like-a-good-idea to that idea being signed, sealed, and delivered.
They say good things come to those who wait. And you’ve been waiting. Now here’s the news.
Way back in late August we started chatting with a US publisher about them licensing the North American rights to City Baby. Finally, this week, nearly five months after we first started the conversation, the deal is done, and we can announce to the world that New York publishers Bazillion Points will be putting out a US imprint of City Baby late this spring.
It’s fantastic news, and it opens up the US market for sales of City Baby in a way which Ignite, as a small independent publisher based in the UK, simply can’t do. It means that all the thousands of GBH fans in North America – as well as anyone who lives there and is into punk rock, or who simply loves a good story well told – will be able to get their hands on the book way more easily than they have up to now. It’s good news for them, it’s good news for Ross, and it’s good news for Ignite too.
It’ll be a little while before the US version is in the shops – the publishing date isn’t set in stone – but it looks likely to be ready by late May 2015, just in time for the next GBH tour of the US. We’ll keep you up-to-date with any developments. Meanwhile, wherever you live, you can still buy copies of City Baby from our website. And if you get your skates on, you’ll be able to catch the last few days of our January sale, too.
Now that’s what we call good news.



sell sell sell

We’re halfway through January. It’s cold and wet, the excess of Xmas seems a lifetime ago, going to the gym and keeping off the booze has already lost its allure, and it’s next to impossible to believe that summer will ever really arrive. 
What you need is something to boost your morale. And we can help. 
First of all – in case you hadn’t heard – today the comedian Al Murray brightened all our lives* by putting himself forward as a candidate in the General Election. In South Thanet. Against Nigel Farage. A quick poll of the electorate here in Ignite Villas reveals that a) we don’t think anything has ever made us happier, and b) from now on, whenever we look at Farage on TV… we’ll see the Pub Landlord. Al Murray, you’re a genius. Any of you interested in Al’s policies – which are equally inspired – will find them here. And if that hasn’t kick-started a national mood of celebration, we don’t know what will. 
Greedy for still more good news? Here it is. The Ignite book sale starts tomorrow
It’ll run to the end of the month, and it’s going to see all of our books at special low prices. Most of them will be at half-price or less, and for the next two weeks even our best-seller City Baby will be cheaper than ever. So don’t miss out. This will be your last chance to get your hands on a copy of Dave Barbarossa’s novel Mud Sharks, and it’s going to be an unprecedented opportunity to pick up some great writing from wonderfully talented writers, at great discounts. If you’re after passionate, comic political poetry, dark tales of richly imagined lives in Bradford, or simply true stories of life riding the punk rock roller-coaster, now’s your chance. 
Treat yourself, or your family, or tell your friends. Or any combination of the three. From February, everything will be back to full-price. And by then we’ll have news of our next publication, too.
And we’ll be that little bit nearer summer.
 
*In the UK, anyway. To our friends in Europe and North America we can only say that he’s doing this for all of us. Trust us on that. 



brave new world

Happy New Year to each and every one of you from all of us here at Ignite! May it be filled with happiness, laughter, and creativity. We’re filling our with plans and schemes. which we’ll be telling you about in due course, and which could make this a very interesting year indeed.
For now, though, to get 2015 off with a bang, we’re turning our attention to the digital versions of our books. We’d be the first to admit that we probably haven’t paid as much attention to this side of things as we should have, but this year we’re going to do our bit to rectify that and come to grips with the brave new world of digital reading.
So – while our first love remains the elegance of printed word on paper, and we still believe nothing quite matches stretching out on the sofa with a new book – we’ve dropped the prices on the Kindle versions of all our books. You can now download great work by Joolz Denby, or Dave Barbarossa, or read Ross Lomas’ cracking autobiography City Baby and do it more cheaply than ever. What’s more, these new low prices are permanent, so you can take advantage of them whenever you want.
Not a bad way to kick off 2015. We’ll have more news for you later this month, and in the months to come, so keep your eyes peeled and watch this space.



connections

There’s no great secret to the way we run Ignite. It’s driven onward by an unholy trinity of hard work, enthusiasm, and unquenching desire to go where our curiosity leads. It may be that we’re missing a trick or two by failing to have some grand, over-arching master plan backed up by flow charts, reinforced by spreadsheets, and bolstered by greed, but so be it.
Don’t get us wrong. If world domination came knocking on the door, we’d let it in for a cup of tea, some Hobnobs and a natter, but we’d draw the line at adopting flow charts, spreadsheets, greed, and marketing double-speak. Because the truth is, from day one we’ve had way too much fun following our nose. And we really aren’t going to change. Old dogs, new tricks, and all that.
You see, in our experience one thing always leads to another. And we revel in having no real idea what that next thing’s going to be. It gives us the freedom, as a small press, to do whatever we want. We publish a book by one person. That brings us to the attention of another, who recommends us to a third, who sends us their manuscript, or mentions us to someone they know who wants our books in their shop, or would like us at their festival. And this leads to someone else coming up and saying Well, I’ve got this story…. And the whole process starts all over again. 
The only constant in all our work, in all our authors, and in all their writing, is that we want to find enthralling stories, well-crafted and beautifully told, and to put these stories before an audience. We want to build a reputation for publishing books which people can’t put down. All our books so far have done exactly that. 
We’re confident that our next book will do the same.
And we’ll tell you more about that very soon.



every little helps

Xmas is coming. It’s the end of another year where prices keep creeping up, but wages haven’t. Making ends meet can be hard enough if you’ve got a job, all but impossible if you’re not earning, and we know too many people who’ve struggled to keep their head above water.
Now, until someone puts Ignite in charge of economic policy (and believe me when they do there’ll be a few changes, and George Osborne will be out of a job) we can’t do very much about that. But we have got bored of howling in rage at our computer, so we’ve decided to try and help your money go further when you’re looking for presents for friends. 
Normally, we’d hold our sale in January. That’s the quietest month for retailers, when everyone’s watching the pennies after the spending spree of Xmas and New Year, and it’s traditionally been our way of trying to brighten the grey days of winter. This year, we’re holding it now. For just £2.00 you can now buy a copy of Joolz Denby’s The Curious Mystery, or Steve Pottinger’s Kissing It All
That’s five books for a tenner. Which means you can pick up great stories, well told, at prices which won’t break the bank. If that makes it easier for you to manage the expense of Xmas, good. If it means you’ve a little money spare to send to organisations fighting Ebola, or homelessness, FGM or child poverty, all the better. 
Just please don’t spend it on that god-awful Band Aid 30 single.
(Feel free to share this blog with anyone you think might find it useful. Thanks)

louder than words

This time next week, we’ll be in Manchester city centre, at the Louder Than Words festival in the prestigious Palace hotel. It promises to be a great weekend – if you take a look at their programme of events there’s bound to be something to whet your appetite. It’s three days packed with music, talks, lectures, conversations, and book signings. If you’ve any interest at all in this side of the music biz, this festival is the place to be.
We’re there to showcase our wonderful books and our talented authors, but we should also give you fair warning that we may have to slip away from our stall – it’ll be in the Buckingham Suite of the hotel, since you ask – every now and then to mingle with the audience in other parts of the festival (how could we not want to listen to Si Denbigh talk about Goth, or watch Steve Ignorant talk about life on the lifeboat?)
We’ll have copies of all our books with us. The last few copies of Dave Barbarossa’s Mud Sharks. The third print run of City Baby. Books by Joolz, and poetry by Steve Pottinger. And all of them will be at unbeatable prices. Most will be roughly one-third off the cover price, and – what with Xmas coming up – a couple of them will be on very special offer. Those of you looking for any stocking fillers, or after cheap and cheerful presents for the readers in your life will – hopefully – find something there that takes your fancy.
Above all, though, we’re looking forward to 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!