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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!

hen’s teeth

It’s Sunday afternoon. The last Sunday afternoon in September. Most years we’d be turning the heating on, pulling on another jumper, and looking out at cold, grey skies and rain. But today the skies are blue, the light is golden, and the country is basking in sunshine warm enough for the day to masquerade as summer.
Here at Ignite we’re basking, too. Basking in the news that City Baby – the autobiography of Ross Lomas, bassist with UK punk legends GBH, in case you somehow missed it – has all but sold out. For the second time. Yep, that’s right. The second time. 
The first time City Baby sold out it caught us on the hop – hardly surprising seeing as the last 100 books went in less than 24 hours! This time we’re better prepared. We’ve already been in contact with the printers, and tomorrow morning we’ll be making sure our order for a third run of books is with them. Right now, putting this blog together on a balmy afternoon, the reality of what we’re telling you hasn’t hit home. But trust us when we say that for a small publisher like ourselves, going back to the printers to order a third print run is as rare as hen’s teeth. As rare, say, as sunny Sunday afternoons at the end of September. Possibly more rare than that.
We’re very happy. And a little bit stunned.  And we really ought to let Ross know. 
So excuse us while we wander off to sit in the sunshine and pass on the good news.

usa

I know it’s been a bit like tumbleweed here of late, but if you were foolish enough to believe that meant there was nothing going on, think again! We’ve been busy.
In the middle of August we shipped a huge box, packed with copies of City Baby, over to the USA (thank you very much, DHL) in advance of the GBH tour there in September. Then, confident we’d sent over enough books to last through the whole tour, we sat back and put our feet up. 

The books sold out in four nights.
Four nights! GBH hadn’t even made it out of California and we were faced with the delicious problem of putting another parcel of books together and sending it on its way to a band who were on tour on the other side of the world. After a week of texts and emails at obscure hours of the night, we managed to cobble a plan together, and – as I write this blog – a courier in Baltimore is busy driving our books to an address where they’ll be lovingly cared for in advance of GBH’s gig there this Thursday.
The good news for anyone on the East Coast who wants to get their hands on a copy of City Baby is that they’ll be on sale at the GBH gigs in Baltimore, New York, Cambridge, Philadelphia, and – if there are any left by then – Asbury Park in New Jersey. Our apologies to all those people in the Mid West who missed out. We’re working on doing something about that.
Or you could get to the gig in Baltimore. It’s going to be a cracker!

good people

Once in a while, my nan used to say, it does you no harm to sit and count your blessings. And here at Ignite, over the last couple of days, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Maybe – with summer starting to gently fade into autumn – it’s the time of year for reflection, but whatever the reasons behind it, we’ve recently been overawed by how this little project we set up just a few years ago keeps bringing us into contact with interesting, talented, kind, warm, funny, and generous people.
First on the list are our authors. Hard-working, talented and creative people who’ve come to us with an idea they believe deserves to end up in print. Together, we take their thoughts and their imagination and their stories and turn them into the reality of a book you can hold in your hands, and open and read. Which can be bought and sold and passed to friends, and shared, and enjoyed. Which can take people away from the everyday world of work and routine, and transport them to another place entirely. It’s a kind of alchemy, and a magic we never tire of being part of.
Then there are the lovely people we meet, who buy our books, or who sell them. Yesterday we made our way down to Union Music Store in Lewes, where Dave Barbarossa was reading from his novel Mud Sharks and signing copies for everyone who wanted one. The shop was packed (there will, I think, be footage on Youtube at some point soon), Dave’s reading was excellent, the Q&A was lively and very very funny. And Stevie and John – who run the shop – are passionate about what they do, utterly professional about how they do it, and a joy to spend time with. Our heartfelt thanks to them for making us so welcome.
This coming weekend, we’ll be up at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool again, meeting up with old friends and undoubtedly making new ones. We’ll be hearing about what the stories our authors have told have meant to people. We’ll be talking about books we’ve published and books we have planned. We’ll probably have a beer, maybe two, while we count our blessings and think how bloody lucky we are to be doing what we do. You’ll almost definitely find us in the Empress Ballroom on the Friday evening, watching GBH, so come up and say hallo.
We’re looking forward to it already.

magic

It’s kind of fun, being a small publisher. Every few days we parcel up the latest batch of online orders and wander down the road to our local Post Office to send them on their way. I’m not sure whether the bloke behind the counter sees our appearance with a load of book-sized parcels as something a little exotic – I need to send this airmail to Indonesia, please – or a bloody great nuisance making him search through his online database to work out just how long it’ll take a book to get to Australia by surface post when that’s all the customer’s paid for. So far, he’s kept his feelings to himself, and everything we’ve posted has made it to its destination – with the exception of a packet to Malmö, which the Swedish postal service decided to send to an entirely different part of the country for reasons best known to themselves before returning the book to us with the news that Malmö didn’t exist.  Strange folk.
This week, as always, we’ve sent our books to customers all over the UK and Europe. We’ve sent our first ever copy of City Baby to someone in Ukraine, and another of our books in on its way to a prisoner in the USA whose sister cares about him enough to contact a small publisher in the UK to ask if we can send him a copy of Dave Barbarossa’s Mud Sharks. We were happy to. And we can only hope he enjoys it, and that it does something to remind him of the bigger world outside the prison walls.
This really is one of the joys of our work, that it brings us in contact with people whose lives we know next to nothing about. Someone in Kiev wants a copy of City Baby. Wow. What’s their life like? What’s Kiev like? Will the book mean as much to them – or more, or less – as it does to the bloke on a farm near Carlisle whose copy is going in the post at the same time? It’s an amazing and privileged position to be in, where something we’ve put together will make its way across the globe to someone in a city on the other side of the world which is waking up just as we go to sleep, or drop through a letterbox somewhere in the highlands of Scotland and – hopefully – change someone’s day.
Which seems an appropriate moment to tell you that we sold a copy of City Baby to David Cameron this week. OK, so unless the lying toad our much-revered Prime Minister has moved to Ayrshire it was probably just someone sharing the same name. On the other hand, this summer may just be the one where we see Ordinary Dave on the steps of No. 10 wearing a Perfume & Piss t-shirt, or down the front at a GBH gig, giving it large.
In which case, remember, you heard it here first.

anniversary

A lot goes on in a year. Twelve months ago, we took delivery of the first print run of City Baby, which – in case you missed it – is the autobiography of Ross Lomas, bass player with iconic UK punk band GBH for over thirty years.
A lot of feelings come into play when the book you’ve been working on for so long finally arrives. There’s pride, obviously, and excitement. There’s a certain sense of disbelief that this project which has taken so much of your time – Ross and Steve Pottinger had worked on it together for over eighteen months, fitting interviews round GBH gigs and work commitments – has turned into a beautifully produced book, into box after box of beautifully produced books. Above all, there’s a pit-of-your-stomach nervousness, because you’ve told yourself people will want to read this story, and now you’ve got to get out there and sell the sodding thing.
We needn’t have worried. By October last year, that first run had completely sold out. The reviews – you can read them here if you haven’t already – had been universally positive, and City Baby had become Ignite Book’s best-selling publication. We’d posted copies to people the length and breadth of the UK, all over Europe and North America, to folk in Australia, in New Zealand, and in Asia. We learned that the Swedish postal service isn’t entirely sure where Malmo is, and that Australian dogs will quite literally devour Ross’ story, given half a chance. We’d discovered just how long surface mail takes to get to California, and how many copies of the book we can fit in a 10kg DHL parcel. We were on a learning curve, and there was a lot to learn.
We learnt it.
Through all of this, one of the things which made all the hard work worthwhile was hearing back from people who’d read the book. People who told us this was the first book they’d picked up since they left school, and that they’d loved it. People who told us they’d missed a night’s kip because they’d started reading City Baby one evening and found they really couldn’t put it down. People who said Ross had captured just exactly what it’s like to be part of the exhilarating, chaotic, wonderful scene that is punk.
It’s now one year since we took delivery of that first consignment of books, and we just wanted to say thanks to everyone who’s bought a copy, or told their mates about it, or stocked it in their shop. Thanks to Rebellion Festival, and to John Robb of Louder Than War for interviewing Ross and Steve about City Baby as part of that festival. Thanks to everyone who reviewed City Baby for their magazines, and to All Ages Records for holding a book-signing in their shop. Thanks to all of you. Because we couldn’t have done it without you. Above all, our thanks to Ross for being so honest in talking about his life, and for being such a joy to work with.
And for those of you who haven’t read City Baby yet, it’s well worth a few hours of your time. If you love punk rock, and if you love larger-than-life tales which will make you laugh out loud and then catch your breath in shock, get your hands on a copy of this book, draw up a chair in the sunshine with a beer, and prepare to be entertained.

goodbye

When we first set up Ignite, one of our major goals was to put money in the pockets of our writers. All too often, the people who should be at the heart of things end up – after agents and publishers have taken their cut – with a derisory percentage of the money made. We wanted to make sure we rewarded their creativity and the hard graft they put into writing and editing and producing their work. Without that there are no stories, nothing for you to read, and nothing for us to sell.
We’re proud to say we’ve done exactly that. Ignite runs on a not-for-profit basis. Every penny is re-invested in fresh work, or paid out to writers. But choosing to follow this model of business means – obviously – that we exist on something of a shoestring, which means we lean more toward low-cost or free ways of telling the world what we’re up to, and rely rather less on full-page ads in magazines.
For a long time, facebook was the ideal medium for us to use. It put us in contact with people who liked what we were doing, let us keep them informed about what we were up to, and felt – in some loose, indefinable way – like some kind of cyber-community. Not any more. Over the last couple of years, facebook has become more and more interested in maximising revenue, and less and less interested in letting people keep in touch. Posts disappear from timelines in the blink of an eye, and are seen by a mere fraction of the people we want to get them to. We could pay, of course, although there’s increasing evidence that this doesn’t work, and the irony of a multi-billion dollar corporation trying to squeeze cash out of a small not-for-profit business hasn’t escaped us either.
So we’re saying goodbye to facebook. The page will still be there, and we’ll doubtless drop by from time to time, but our main focus will now be elsewhere. We’d very much like to keep in contact with as many people as possible, so we’d love you to sign up to our monthly newsletter – the next one will come out later this week. You can do that here. And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find us here. Pop by and say hello. And if you like what we’re doing, and have enjoyed any of the books we’ve published, do please tell your friends.
You can even do it on facebook if you like. *winks knowingly and walks away*

busy busy busy

There’s plenty going on at Ignite Villas at the moment.
For the next few weeks our author Dave Barbarossa is out drumming with Adam & The Ants on the Dirk Wears White Sox reprise tour. Any of you going to the gigs will find flyers about his wonderful novel Mud Sharks on the tour merch stall, and we’re happy to say that’s already been bringing in new book orders from people who previously knew him only as a drummer.
This Thursday, April 10th, Ignite author Ross Lomas will be at All Ages Records in Camden (6.00pm sharp, folks) to do a book signing for his acclaimed autobiography City Baby. (psst! tell your friends!) We’re also very pleased to announce that this book is now available in all formats: in print, as a Kindle, and as an eBook (UK buyers can find it at hive.co.uk)
Finally – and in many ways most importantly of all – this week we’ve been able to repay a debt. Very few people know that when Ignite was set up, it was purely the generosity of Joolz Denby which made it possible. She provided the initial start-up cash. It’s a rare and precious thing when someone offers that kind of financial support simply because they believe in what you’re doing. But she did. In doing so, she opened the door to a lot of hard work, and to a lot of fun too. We’ve had the immense satisfaction of turning out well-produced books which have sold well and been critically acclaimed, and we’ve plans to carry on doing that for as long as we’ve the enthusiasm to do so and can find writing we want to publish. But right from those first days we’ve always been aware that – however generous someone has been – a loan is a loan is a loan. And it needs to be repaid.
Finally, this week, we’ve been able to send Joolz a cheque and pay her back. On the one hand, this changes nothing at all. On the other, knowing that Ignite has not only survived but thrived, and been able to justify the faith placed in it, feels like a very definite coming-of-age. It’s a proud moment. So this evening we’ll be enjoying it, reflecting on everything we’ve achieved, and opening a beer or two.
We’ll be back to the grindstone soon enough.

digital

Ever since we published City Baby we’ve been acutely aware that for fans of GBH who live on the other side of the world, getting their hands on a physical copy of the book can be prohibitively expensive (if they opt for airmail delivery) or take weeks to arrive if they choose to get it sent by surface mail.
We needed to do something about that.
So over the last few weeks we’ve been working on a digital version of City Baby. And now, it’s ready. A Kindle version is already on sale through all Amazon sites, and we’re waiting for the ePub version to be approved for sale via hive.co.uk and outlets worldwide. To keep up to date with the latest developments on this, best check in regularly on our facebook page, which you can find here.
This digital version of the book will be considerably cheaper than the printed version – if you’re outside Europe it’ll be less than half the cost – and is an attractive option for anyone who wants to take all their favourite reads with them wherever they go. Those of us who prefer old-fashioned physical books will still be able to get City Baby in the traditional format, too. Of course.
Which leads us seamlessly on to the news that if you want a print copy of City Baby, signed by Ross Lomas, then he’ll be at All Ages Records in London on Thursday April 10th at 6pm. If you’re in the area, come along. If you’re not, but know people who are, tell them. You can sign up via our ‘event’ page on facebook, which is here.
And now, because we’ve earned it, and because we can, we’re off to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Sláinte!

siesta

Every now and then it’s good to take a bit of time off. To walk away from the office and the laptop and the emails, switch off your phone, and cut yourself free. And that’s what Ignite is doing for the next couple of weeks. Running a small, independent publisher is a lot of fun, sure, but it’s a lot of hard work too (so it’s a big help when any of you tell your friends about us, and we really appreciate it). Anyway – what with one thing and another – recently we’d been running on fumes.
So, time for a little break. A bit of time off. A chance for us to recharge our batteries. And it’s not a moment too soon. With the publication of each of our books we’ve got better at promoting and publicising them, made new contacts, built on old ones, sought out new opportunities, done a little more networking. All of that means more work, more graft. Throw the relative success of City Baby into the mix – and our determination to make the most of it while it’s there, so raising the profile of all our books – and the result was that we got a little too close to driving ourselves into the ground. Which does no-one any good.
Right now, we’re reminding ourselves what it’s like to drift a little. To walk down the streets of a city you don’t know, where all the faces are faces of strangers, where each day is a blank page, beautifully unwritten, for you to do what you want with. To spend time sitting in cafes, wandering round museums, nipping into pubs, and getting blown every which way by storm-force winds. It’s delightful.
We’ll be doing that for a little while longer. Because life isn’t just about making sales.*
*note: if any of you are worrying about what this means for your orders… relax. We’ll be fulfilling those as promptly as ever. We’re just enjoying a little time out.

forward and back

One of the great things about books is that everyone has an opinion on them. What one person loves, another can’t abide. (Someone out there likes Fifty Shades Of Grey, for starters). But anyone who – even for a moment – confuses the enthusiasm we may express for one of Ignite’s publications with an inference that another one is somehow second-rate is sadly mistaken. We’re hugely proud of all our books, we believe the writing in all of them is top-notch, and we’d recommend any of them as a tonic to the grey, wet January days that stretch out in front of us.*
Enthusiasm, you see, is what has helped propel Ignite forward over the past few years. Yes, it’s gone hand-in-hand with a fair measure of bloody-mindedness, but without boundless enthusiasm, we’d never have got to where we are now. And where we are now is a place we wouldn’t have dared dream we’d get to when we first dipped our tentative toes into the choppy publishing waters. This past year has seen some notable firsts for us. So we’d like to use this final blog of 2013 to celebrate both the milestones we’ve passed, and the ones that are coming into view.
Top of the list is City Baby, which became the first of our books to completely sell out its initial print run (both Mud Sharks and Wild Thing have come close, but neither of them have quite made it – yet). Thankfully, the 2nd edition arrived at the start of December, just in time for Xmas, and since then we’ve been sending it out to readers across the UK, Europe, USA, and over twenty countries round the world, so far.
We also took out our first ever advert in a magazine. Up till now, all our advertising has been by word of mouth, or social media. Anything which doesn’t cost money. We’ve always needed that elsewhere. Finally, all the hard work we’ve put in meant we were ready to take this next step in raising our game and our profile, so this December we took out a half-page ad in the excellent Vive Le Rock (they also reviewed Mud Sharks in the same issue, and did a feature on GBH, so we’d have been mad not to). As with everything we do, it’s been a learning curve – there are things we got right, and things we’ll change next time – but it’s been worth it.
Two other milestones are approaching fast. At the time of writing, we’re inching towards 500 likes on Facebook which – despite all our reservations about it since their owners monetised everything – remains a valuable way of letting you all know what we’re doing. Far, far more excitingly, we’re also coming up on 500 sales through the online shop on this website. While sales through bookshops (or online retailers with dodgy employment practices) remain important, our shop allows us to connect directly with you, and we’re chuffed to bits to see it do so well. So we’ll be celebrating reaching this milestone at Ignite Villas by going crazy as only we know how – with another cup of tea and a couple of chocolate biscuits.
Most importantly of all, we’ll be sharing the joy with one lucky customer, who’ll get a whole bunch of extra goodies with their order. That seems like the best possible way to start 2014. The idea is putting a smile on our faces already. Hopefully it’ll put a smile on yours. Or someone you know will strike lucky – so best let them know, eh?
Wishing you all the very best for the coming year. May it be good to us all.
*If you’re reading this in Hawaii, our books are equally comfortable slumming it on the beach. They’re good like that.

humbug

Xmas is coming. Which means you’ll be assailed* from dawn till dusk (and beyond) by a tsunami of adverts promising to make your life full and lustrous and wonderful, to keep you slim and your teeth perfect and your partner beautiful and your world just tickety-boo. Because you’re worth it. Because every little helps. Because it’s sodding priceless.
It’s a shrieking crescendo, a corporate frenzy offering you nirvana on the never-never to the sound of Jingle Bells. And we’re pretty bloody ambivalent about entering into this bunfight. But bear with us for the course of this blog while we give it our best, slightly hesitant, shot.
We’ve got some wonderful books which will make excellent presents, for you, your family, or your friends. There. We said it. And seeing as we’re in for a penny, we might as well go in for a pound, so – please – read on.
We’ve been talking about our latest publication – City Baby, the autobiography of Ross Lomas of GBH – for months now. (If you’ve been hiding under a rock – or swimming from Lands End to John O’Groats – and have no idea what we’re on about, you can find one of the many excellent reviews of the book here). It’s currently sold out and we’re waiting on delivery of a second print run in late November. What better way to celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus than with a rollicking read about life in punk rock? Oh, and every order made this month will come with a free gift, just because we like the idea. So don’t miss out.
If you only learned about Ignite because of City Baby, (or even if you didn’t) there are two other books we strongly recommend. Mud Sharks, by Dave Barbarossa, was published last October. The debut novel from the former Adam & The Ants drummer – and one which got a 4* review from Q magazine – it’s the gripping tale of a teenage boy in 70s London who runs away from a brutal home life and discovers the drums, and punk rock. With that comes fame, and with that comes… ah, but that would be telling. Read it yourself to find out. It’s very good.
Next up, Wild Thing by Joolz Denby. Joolz is a remarkable writer who was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for her novel Billie Morgan. Wild Thing is every bit as good. Annie Wynter has turned her back on the music industry and gone home to Bradford. Life as a social worker is as far from the London whirl as you can imagine, but Annie is getting by. Then a brutal killing and an encounter with a feral child turn her whole world upside-down. No-one, least of all Annie, expects what happens next. This book blew our metaphorical socks off when we first read the manuscript, and it still does now. Highly recommended.
There you go. The Ignite Xmas ad campaign, done and dusted. Three books. Two great novels and one unforgettable life-story. Check our website, and you’ll find more, including three books of poems and short stories by Steve Pottinger. Any or all of them are great value at Xmas, Yule, New Year, a week on Wednesday, whenever you fancy. And you won’t be swelling the coffers of some bloated multinational when you buy them, either. You’ll be making a real difference to people who live for their art and their music.
Thank you.
 
*correction: have been assailed since mid-September.

spanish inquisition

Every now and then, something catches you on the hop. And like the Spanish Inquisition in Monty Python’s famous sketch, it’s always unexpected.
Truth is, we hadn’t seen last Friday coming. Or at least we had, but we weren’t expecting it so soon. Orders for City Baby have been coming in steadily ever since we got the copies from the printers in July, and – looking at the sales figures – we knew that by the end of October it was very likely to become our best-selling book ever*. So we were gearing ourselves up for a big announcement to tell you all exactly that. We were going to spend a day or so blowing our own trumpet, revelling in the news that we’d reached this milestone, and celebrating the fact that in deciding to publish Ross’ story – which is a cracking read – we’d chosen well.
Looking ahead, we reckoned we had sufficient books in stock for another five or six weeks,  and we’d contacted the printers to make sure we’d have more copies of City Baby by the end of November. This would also be unexplored territory for Ignite Books – our first ever re-print – and we were ready to make a song and dance about that too, when it happened.
We had everything in hand, and then the Spanish Inquisition turned up.
On the morning of October 31st, the emails started coming in. Orders from bookshops for copies of City Baby. Every time we looked at the computer, another half-dozen copies had gone. By mid-morning on November 1st, we had to contact the wholesalers to tell them we’d nothing left. Every single copy of City Baby had been sold.
We’re ecstatic. And slightly stunned. And we’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone involved. To Ross for telling his story in the first place, to Punks Alive in Birmingham who helped us put on our launch night, and to Rebellion Festival for giving us a platform too. We’re very grateful to Louder Than War, and to Record Collector, Sidewalk and Vive Le Rock magazines for their wonderful reviews. And we’re especially grateful to everyone who bought the book, told us how much they enjoyed it, and – more importantly – told their friends. Thank you. We couldn’t have done this without you.
The re-print is now under way, and more copies of City Baby will be with us in late November. You can still order it via the website, and we’ll send your copy out the instant the books arrive. And to thank you for your patience (and because it’s coming up to Xmas and we like the idea) every order made through our website between now and the end of November will also include a free gift. Something unexpected.
How’s that for ruthless efficiency, Mr Palin?
*or at least, so far.

good news

That title’s not entirely accurate. It should, really, read more good news. Because following on from the great reviews of City Baby on the Louder Than War website and in Sidewalk magazine, we’ve now had two more, in Record Collector magazine, and Vive Le Rock.
Record Collector gave it 4*, and described it as ‘compelling’. Vive Le Rock gave it 8/10, and said it was ‘absolutely captivating’. They also rather enjoyed the story behind the GBH song ‘Drugs Party in Room 526’… and why wouldn’t they? We’ll be posting up pictures of the reviews on our facebook page as soon as we’ve found time to scan them, but life’s kind of busy right now, so it may take a while. It’s been quite a job just finding time to write this blog…
Good things will come, however, to those who wait. And those who persevere. Nagging Amazon about their failure to list City Baby as ‘available’ finally paid off, and they got in touch to sort it out. No apology for the two weeks where they said it wasn’t released, of course, but at least they changed the book’s status. Now anyone can leave a review of it – here – and if you can be bothered to do so, we’d love it if you did. Having positive comments about a book does it no harm at all. And this book deserves all the recommendations it can get. And the sales. So, please, if you know someone who’d love a copy of this book, drop them a line and point them our way…
That’s it for today, folks. Short, sweet, and to the point. Now, back to the grindstone!
Enjoy your weekend!

unmissable

That’s what Louder Than War said about City Baby. They said a lot more, too. In fact, we were tempted to type the whole review out here, word for word*. They called it fascinating, uplifting, a heartening tale of survival, and an essential read. They praised Ross for being so honest and open about the dark times that came along, as well as relating the high jinks and the chaos that has been GBH on the road. And they’re right. City Baby is a funny, entertaining, and wonderfully candid autobiography which deserves every word of praise they’ve lavished on it.
Seeing as we’re blowing our trumpet about it, it seems only right to tell you that Sidewalk magazine (issue 204) made City Baby their Book Of The Month. And said it was an antidote to well-worn rock clichés, a warts’n’all story, a book which has dry humour in spades.
And – of course – our readers have had their say too (if you haven’t yet, you can do so here).
Better than ‘White Line Fever’ by Lemmy.
Easy to read and highly entertaining.
The dogs bollox.
Simply amazing.

And so on.
It’s hard to overstate how important reviews like this are to a small publisher like Ignite. We’ve next to no budget – certainly nothing that allows us to compete on a level playing field with the big boys of the publishing world. Not yet, anyway. This means we have to be inventive. We hold launches in pubs, use social media as much as we can, and we work with bands who’ll take copies of our books out on the road. Rather than worry about what we can’t do, we find out what we can. And then we get on with it.
Above all, this means we rely on word of mouth. The impact of people telling their mates about us is enormous. Especially seeing as Am**on UK – for reasons best known to themselves – still list the book as unreleased, ten days after it was officially published. Anyone would think they don’t want to sell books, or make money. The weirdos. More than ever, we politely suggest it might be a good idea to buy your books from other outlets – independent bookshops, hive.co.uk or even this website. Why give your money to people who don’t care?
And on that enquiring note, we’ll sign off. There are more reviews of City Baby coming over the next few weeks. We can only hope they’re as positive as the two we’ve already had. But even if they’re not, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, all the very best to you and yours. Happy reading!
*Somehow we held out. For those of you who haven’t seen or read the Louder Than War review, or who might want to share it with friends (especially friends who might want to buy the book) here’s a handy link….

celebration

Sometimes it does you no harm at all to stop work, step back from the coalface and take a look at what you’ve achieved.
This week Ignite Books is four years old. We started out with the vague idea that if other publishers weren’t interested in taking on powerful, thoughtful, provocative and well-written work because it wasn’t in genre, then maybe we should do it ourselves. Why not? And that simple idea opened the door to four years packed with more graft than we’d ever imagined, with learning curve after learning curve, with the joy of creating a publishing house which worked with authors to create something they were as excited by as we were.  Four years on, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been a lot of fun, too.
So, to those of you who’ve supported us along the way, to the people who’ve so generously shared their expertise, to everyone who’s bought one or more of our books and recommended us to their friends, our most heartfelt thanks. Really. Thank you. Because we couldn’t have done it without you. The feedback you send us – by email, or on facebook, or on twitter, or wherever – means a very great deal, and convinces us we were right to take that leap of faith four years ago. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.
At the start of October, our latest book City Baby is officially published. We’ve been selling it via the website for weeks already, and the response from people who’ve read it has been fantastic. The magazine reviews are on their way, and they’re just as positive. This book very definitely maintains the high standards we’ve set ourselves, and we’re chuffed to bits by it.
But this blog isn’t about City Baby – if you’ve somehow missed the song and dance we’ve been making about it, check the website! Yes, we will be taking a little break from work to mark its launch and pat ourselves on the back, but today we just want to say thank you and let you share in our celebrations.
From 23rd-30th September, we’ll be having a sale on print copies of all our back catalogue. If you’ve been meaning to buy a copy of Joolz’ The Curious Mystery… or Wild Thing for yourself or a friend, or you want to find out why Q Magazine gave Dave Barbarossa’s Mud Sharks a 4* review, if you fancy reading Steve Pottinger’s poetry, or you just want to stock up on Xmas presents, now’s the time. If you live in austerity Britain, postage is the same for two copies as it is for one, meaning your money goes even further (we can’t do anything about postage costs abroad, sorry, but we will include a car sticker with every order).
Virtual cake and fizzy pop all round, too. So stick the dates in your diaries, people, and tell your friends.
And sláinte. And thank you all.

all in it together

At the time of writing there’s just under four weeks till our latest book City Baby is officially published. Hard to believe it’s still under the radar, seeing as we’ve been talking about it all summer, and people have been telling us how much they’ve enjoyed it for almost as long, but only on October 1st is it truly sent out into the big wide world.
From then on, Am**on will have their big greedy mitts all over it. If that sentence hasn’t given you a bit of a clue about our view of the multi-national tax dodger, and this one hasn’t either, then check some of our earlier blogs (specifically this one). In the brave new modern world we’ve built, the customer is king, and we will – of course – fulfill any orders made through them (at least if they bother passing them on), but we’d rather you bought it elsewhere. There’s our website, for starters. If you buy it there we see something for the work we’ve put in to creating this book, but if that doesn’t work for you, then we suggest you support your local bookshop – especially if it’s independent – or go online through hive.co.uk, who do the same thing.
You see, in keeping with the punk ethic, we’d rather money went to small businesses like ourselves. So if you know an indie bookshop, or a music shop, or anywhere that might want to stock and sell a few copies of City Baby, we’d love you to put them in contact with us. And if you’re a touring band who want to take some for your merch stall, we’d like to hear from you too. Just email us at hello@ignitebooks.co.uk and we’ll sort something out. And if you know someone who might know someone who could be interested, then pass this blog along.
We’d like to see someone other than the usual big boys of the major brands make some money. After all, if we want a better way of doing things, it’s worth putting a bit of effort in to make it happen. We’re stronger together.
It really is that simple.
P.S. The glitch on the website which had inflated postage costs to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has now been fixed. Thanks to Tim in NZ for drawing our attention to it!