PoD presses and quality-control…

NOTE: This is an opinion piece. Names have been left out to protect the (allegedly) guilty.

In the last few years, an amazing number of Print-on-Demand (PoD) small-presses have sprung up in the publishing world.

Some of these presses are run by very professional people who have an amazing level of talent when it comes to editing, layout and cover design. Some have a great deal of talent when it comes to sourcing other professionals with an amazing level of talent in editing, layout and cover design.
These presses run a very tight ship, they put out high quality perfect-bound paperbacks, eBooks and, sometimes, hardcovers. I have many of these books in my collection, and they are quality books, written by quality authors and edited by quality editors.
These presses pay their authors, give advances (admittedly, not as high as the bigger publishers, but still advances), and pay royalties for all sales. 
I have the highest respect for these people and the publishing houses they run. This new paradigm of PoD is giving authors a chance to get their names out there.
The publishing world is changing, and this is one of the biggest changes.

And then you have the other PoD presses. The ones that are run by authors who believe that they have an amazing level of talent when it comes to editing, layout and cover design. It’s a shame they don’t.
They’re not editors, they’re not cover artists and they’re not layout artists. They’re nothing but authors that have received too many rejections (that they feel aren’t warranted) and have decided to self-publish. At the same time, they decided they’d do more than just self-publish: they decided they’d put out a submission call for other authors.
They put out ‘for the love’ anthologies all the time (and sometimes novels, if authors submit them); they don’t pay authors, they don’t give advances or even contributors’ copies. Not often, anyway. The only ones who make money from their books are themselves.
The authors who trustingly submit to them, hoping for some exposure and to see their name in print, and the authors’ families and friends, are the only real customers. These anthologies and novels are as close to vanity-publications as you can get without being vanity publications.
I don’t think they do it with any real desire to deceive anyone. I don’t think they realise that the books they release are sub-standard. Here is the problem. They really think they are putting out quality stuff.

I don’t understand why they don’t give royalties, nor why they don’t give contributors’ copies.
I do think they don’t sell many books at all; only to the authors themselves, and the friends and families of the authors. If they did pay royalties, it wouldn’t be much, but it’d be something.
Something is better than nothing. Something is something.

Sometimes, these presses move into the realm of more professional releases, and they start paying. More often than not, they don’t. They keep on releasing ‘for the love’ anthologies until they run out of authors who want to submit.
Sadly, that never happens…

So, all you budding writers out there… have faith in your work, have faith in its strength and have faith in its ability to sell (yes, sell)  to someone who values it enough to at least pay you for it.
Your time is valuable, and if you don’t value it enough to want something in return, then who will?

Book trailer video shoot…

Film-maker giving direction
Getting the exposure right for some still shots
Getting some shots of the street-art
Film-maker, cameraman and director/producer
Kris Saknussemm (left), script-writer, discusses the shoot with GN Braun
GN Braun, guarding the camera stand
Script-writer Kris Saknussemm, with Luci, the World’s #1 Mastiff (set security)
Matthew Revert, representative of the publisher, Legumeman Books
Kris and film-maker discuss the shoot, while Luci stands guard
Braun and other discuss the seating for the interview sequence
Preparing for the interview (Kris on the left, Braun centred and other on the right)
Interview underway and being filmed
110 block, the backdrop for the interview. Bleak and depressing…
Other person setting up the camera angle
Braun and Kris talk while film-maker sets up the camera
Film-maker shifts the equipment for a different angle while the second round of questions are asked
Kris and Luci stand guard while someone else prepares for a few short sequences and sound-bites
Luci ensures the film-shoot isn’t interrupted…
This was a public space photoshoot that occurred in Richmond, Melbourne, in the heart of the heroin trade.

North Richmond 3121: A visual Tour

 A visual tour through the inner-Melbourne suburb of North Richmond, a suburb known for the strong presence of heroin and amphetamines.

View looking south towards Victoria Street from my favourite cafe, with the high-rise flats in the background
In the gutter where we parked the car. And so it begins…

A highly-visible police presence fails to drive away the drug traffic

A friend, crippled by infection after being stabbed several times by an addict

Rear of one of the Elizabeth Street walk-up flats

Children’s playground, likely infested with used syringes

View from the playground of the walk-up flats

Rear entrance to the walk-ups. Many drug deals and injections take place here, where it is hidden from the street
Typical back alley in North Richmond, strewn with debris from countless injections
Syringe lid and a few of the balloons used to hold street deals of heroin
This alcove off an alley and around the corner are fairly safe places to inject heroin, except that the cops tend to check them regularly

Unusual type of syringe found abandoned underneath the ramp leading to North Richmond train station. As a rule, most addicts use 1ml insulin syringes; this is a 3ml syringe with detachable tip. Notice the protective cap left off, yet right next to the dangerous sharp tip
A view down towards 106 block of the high-rise flats with the eternal police presence. This is the same block of flats shown from the same angle as the cover of Hammered: Memoir of an addict

The needle-exchange at the North Richmond Community Health Centre. Thousands of syringes are passed out to addicts every week from this facility, helping restrict infection and the risk of disease due to dirty injecting equipment
The bin outside the needle-exchange for disposal of dirty injecting equipment. It’s a real shame some addicts don’t use it, choosing instead to leave their remnants behind at injection sites

Scattered syringes and an upside-down can (used for mixing up the drugs with water) left behind at a secluded spot behind a building in North Richmond
The sheltered BBQ area between blocks 108 and 110 of the high-rise flats, designed for use by families, but more often used by dealers and addicts
108 block of the high-rise flats in Elizabeth Street, North Richmond. People from farming cultures living like caged hens. Check out the link HERE for more information on the high-rise project


The new mini-police station being set up in North Richmond, in the heart of the drug area. Designed to limit the trade in illicit substances… like that’s gonna happen. This is purely to show the public that they are doing something. At the very best, the trade will just move a block or two further over

The Bridge Detox Centre, funded and run by the Salvation Army in Abbotsford, about three hundred metres from the heart of the North Richmond illicit drug trade. I owe this facility my life
The front gate of The Bridge. I went in there seven times, and came out still an addict six times

A day in the life…

This was a day in my life for a long time. Every addict is different, but this is how it ran for me…

Typical scene from a street-injection

5am: Wake up sick: shivering, sweating, stomach cramps, restless legs
5-7am: Lie in bed wondering how to raise the money to score today
7am: Get out of bed, scrape through pockets and check bank accounts in case some money miraculously appears
7.15am: Try and eat something. Stomach too agitated to hold it down
7.20am: Throw up
7.30am: Shower to try and feel a little better and wash off the night’s sweat
8am: Trudge out into the world to try and raise some cash somehow


From this point on, the scene changes for everyone to some extent…


8.05am: Find out that there is little to no petrol in the car (if you have a car that runs, of course)
8.10am: Assuming you have petrol, drive to the nearest shopping centre
8.30-9am: Wait for Big W or K-Mart to open
9.05am: Enter store, trying not to look suspicious
9.10am: Stuff as many books under the shirt as possible without looking stuffed full of books and then exit store while trying not to look suspicious
9.15-10.30am: make as many return trips as possible without looking suspicious (this depended on how many entrances and exits there were, and the alertness of security guards and shop-assistants)
10.35am: Work out resale value of stock, and either go sell them or go to another store and steal more
10.40am: Drive to 2nd hand bookshop, negotiate a sale price for the misappropriated books. If enough to score, then drive to Richmond and score

From this point, relax and enjoy the high until at least lunchtime, and then start all over again for the afternoon score, trying to make enough for an afternoon taste AND an evening taste


5am: Wake up slightly sick, even though I had a taste the night before
5.02am: Have a shot with what remains of yesterdays gear
7am: Call the dealer I score heroin through
8am: Meet dealer, pick up half a gram of heroin
8.15am: Have another shot
8.20am: parcel up remaining heroin into five $40 deals
8.35am: Catch bus into town
9-9.30am: Sell four $40 deals
9.40am: Call dealer and arrange to pick up another half gram
10-11am: Meet dealer (they are almost ALWAYS late)
11.15am: Catch bus home
11.40am: Have another shot
11.45am: Make up four deals of heroin
12.03pm: Catch bus back into town
12.30pm: Sell four deals
On and on and on…

For both scenarios, this goes on, every single day, seven days a week. No day off, no respite from the sickness, no holidays, no breaks. On top of this, you have to throw in trying to maintain a normal appearance in front of any kids, picking up methadone or other maintenance therapy, finding cash to pay for the maintenance therapies, seeing doctors at least once a fortnight

The ONLY time you get a slight break from the routine is on payday, usually fortnightly. And then, if you spend all your money on heroin, you need to take into consideration how the hell you’ll ever pay the bills and put food in the fridge…

This is a shitty life, believe me…

Tom Climbs the Fence

‘Jack returns to his empty childhood home seeking a quiet life but is instead thrust into an epic battle to help save his neighbour Tom from a drug addiction. Amid a cycle of violence and desperation, Jack falls in love with Tom’s sister Amy – an old friend – and the two rediscover a special bond as they nostalgically reflect on the past and bravely confront the present. Tom Climbs the Fence is a revealing story of one man’s struggle to regain his life, told by someone witnessing – and living – his pain. It is a raw insight into addiction and its devastating effects, and the courage and love needed to fight it.’


Tom Climbs the Fence is the debut novel by Australian writer Shane Worrell, published in 2010. Tom Climbs the Fence is set in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia and told from the perspective of a neighbour and close friend trying to understand and hoping to save a lifelong friend from heroin addiction.[1]
Worrell said he drew from his own experiences to produce an honest account of the realities of trying to help a family member or friend through addiction.[2]
Unlike many depictions of addiction, Tom Climbs the Fence focuses more on the emotional consequences than the graphic drug use.[3]


Private Midnight by Kris Saknussemm

Private MidnightPrivate Midnight by Kris Saknussemm

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Detective Birch Ritter. Man, cop, Noir protagonist of Private Midnight.

Once started, this novel feels like a police-procedural, but it’s so much more than that. Multi-layered to begin with, it quickly takes on a dreamlike quality. Loaded with psychosexual tension and noir-metaphors, it’s very easy to read, and even easier to get lost in. Then, towards the end, it takes an even darker turn (if that’s possible); a turn no-one can see coming, yet seems a natural direction when it arrives.

The writing is very fluid, with a unique style that is pure Saknussemm. It’s filled with darkness and light, but the darkness seems darker than it ever is in real life… or is it? That’s for the reader to decide. More like a waking nightmare than anything else, it explores the darkness inherent in everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I recommend it highly.


Detective Birch Ritter is a man on the edge of himself. His past is filled with secrets, shadows, guilt, and ghosts. Then a dubious police buddy he hasn’t seen in a year introduces him to a mysterious woman who says her business is shadows. What she knows about what lies between the darkness and the light inside men is more than Ritter may want to find out, and much more than he can resist learning. It’s said that to try to forget is to try to conceal, and concealing evidence is a crime. But maybe revelation is another kind of crime-against nature.

Kris Saknussemm, the widely acclaimed author of the sci-fi smash Zanesville, now delves into another genre, and another world-a world where even the sunlight is shadowy and where deviancy is the norm. Private Midnight is a journey into the seedy, sexy, underbelly of life-crime noir for a new generation.


View all my reviews

Ban Live Exports…

Not the usual sort of post, but important!

If we banned live exports, we could then organise a new industry here in Australia that slaughtered the animals to different culture’s religious requirements.
The end result would be twofold: more Aussie jobs and no immoral practises performed on animals that WE are responsible for…
Think it over…
It’s a win/win solution…

Pre-release blurb for Hammered…

‘Because of the nature of the drug life involved, many people will find connections with the writing of people like William Burroughs, but I actually see an older linkage to the work of Malcolm Lowry, who wrote so poignantly of alcoholism, lost hope and hope regained.’
Kris Saknussemm ~ Author of Zanesville, Private Midnight, Sinister Miniatures and Enigmatic Pilot