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australia

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

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

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

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


the only way

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


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

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

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

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

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

Because the only way… is up. Baby.


number four

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

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

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

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

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


raising a toast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slàinte!


wordy weekend

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


baby goes west

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


louder than words two

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

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


polari

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


gems

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


walsall

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



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