Sharpen Fist Here... the story behind the stories.

Posted by Fahrenheit Press on

We started publishing the Fahrenzine series back in early 2020 just as the first of the pandemic lockdowns hit.

Like many publishers around the world we faced immediate challenges to our business.

We had literally just published a manifesto on our website setting out our plans for 2020, these included publishing 60+ new books, curating a new monthly magazine, holding author events on both sides of the Atlantic and most ambitiously setting up our very own physical bookstore.

Every aspect of this business strategy was immediately under threat and we had to pivot quickly to ensure Fahrenheit steered a steady path through the challenges to come.

We were lucky in many ways, Fahrenheit has a loyal and engaged readership and the practical support we got in those early months when, after listening to our appeals, our readers switched to buying directly from us via our own website – we firmly believe that shift is the biggest reason we survived as a business.

One the other hand, one of the first things we realized was that we weren’t the only ones feeling the financial pinch and that many of our readers had suddenly found themselves in unexpected financial hardship. It was clear to us that at exactly the time books could offer much needed comfort was exactly the time that many people could suddenly no longer afford to buy books.

We took the decision that support had to flow both ways, so as many readers continued to support us by buying direct, we made eBooks from our list free to download every day. No catches, no small print – if you didn’t have the funds, you could have a book on us.

Thousands of readers took us up on our offer and in the end we had given away 18,000+ eBooks to people in need.

At the same time it became clear that there was no way we could stick to our publishing plans for 2020 without bankrupting ourselves. In the process of figuring things out we fell back on our punk rock roots and realized that publishing a series of no-thrills, diy pamphlet style short stories was a great way to promote our list, keep our authors in the public eye and keep our loyal fanbase of readers engaged until normal service could be resumed.

Each Fahrenzine was published in a hand-numbered, very limited edition of physical copies and every single one of them sold out almost as quickly as we put them on the shelves. Much like the punk zines that we stole our inspiration from, there was no money in it – each Fahrenzine barely covered their costs, but the pure act of making them and getting them out in the world kept our authors front & centre with our readers and frankly made everyone feel a bit better.  

Far from being a short-term feature, Fahrenzines have now evolved into a much-loved Fahrenheit tradition which will continue as our list grows and evolves.

So many of you begged us to reprint the Fahrenzines because the issue you wanted had sold out before you could get your hands on it.

Honestly my initial feeling was not to, I wanted them to be ephemeral just a little bit of fun promotion for our authors who otherwise risked sinking into book oblivion during the worst of the pandemic. 

But then The Elves made a deal with me - if they could find a cool way to bring them all together that was as special as the the original Fahrenzine concept would I promise to at least consider it?

How could I say no?

When they eventually showed me the layout for SHARPEN FIST HERE it took me about 5 seconds to say YES.

So who remembers getting ‘annuals’ at Christmas time? I was brought up in Glasgow in the 1970s so it was a legal requirement that every house bought the Oor Wullie & The Broons annuals every year - there was very little superhero action to be honest until randomly in 1979 I was given Superman and Batman annuals which I absolutely treasured.

Thinking about it, although thanks to my parents I was already a regular at the local library - these annuals were probably the first books I ever owned for myself - I suspect that’s the same for a lot of people.

It therefore gives me a tremendous kick to be able to announce the FIRST EVER FAHRENHEIT ANNUAL…

Sharpen Fist Here collects the first 13 issues of Fahrenzine into one commemorative volume for everyone to enjoy – so if you didn’t manage to grab one of the original copies you can lose yourself in this genuinely awesome collection of stories from some of the most talented and exciting writers working today.

It’s 170 pages long and printed 8.5” x 11.5” (just like those annuals from my childhood) and it’s available in Hardback, Paperback & eBook editions.

And the title?

Well a few of you have already figured it out on our socials - SHARPEN FIST HERE is my favourite anagram of FAHRENHEIT PRESS and it was what we were going to call our magazine - still might.

Chris McVeigh, Fahrenheit Press, Dec 2021


You can find out more about Sharpen Fist Here by clicking, erm... HERE

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