Tony Nesca and Nicole I. Nesca, run and publish their books under their self-publishing house,Â Screaminâ€™ Skull Press. Both give great insight into the current self-publishing world and what â€œundergroundâ€ writing means, their answers brimming with enthusiasm. This is part two of the interview. You can read part one HERE.
Can you give us a little history on how, where, and when you created SSP?
Nicole:Â Iâ€™ll have to defer to Tony for that answer, as Screaminâ€™ Skull was created before he knew me.
Tony:Â I founded Screamin’ Skull Press in 1994 as a cool sounding name to publish my books under. At the beginning it was just 45-50 page chapbooks of stories and poems, then in 2001 I wrote and published my first full length novel called Dishpig. My wife, Nicole Nesca, a great poet and writer in her own right, joined in 2008 and has written and published six books of her own under the Screamin’ Skull banner. We have also been published by traditional publishers, and currently have a publisher for our digital editions, and my latest novel Calabrito, was published by them, not by us.
As many writers so quickly go the Amazon route with publishing or do what you two did and start their own self-publishing press, what advice can you give to the many people out there who wonâ€™t seek and certainly would never be accepted by a traditional publisher?
Tony:Â Simple; don’t waste too much time looking for a publisher. If you can find one that is cool and if it gives you full creative control, then go for it. But don’t spend a lot of time on it. You have the full force of the internet at your disposal and this is all you need to spread the word about your writing. You can publish it yourself through Amazon and many other places, free of cost, and with just a few more bucks to gather some outside promotion and using the internet as a free resource, you can do it all yourself.
Publishers these days won’t promote your work anyway, they expect the writer to do all the promoting. So why get somebody else to publish your work? Why give them a percentage of your royalties if all they’re going to do is post it on Amazon and a few other places and wait for you to promote it? The reason why we work with an outside publisher is simply because they deal with the digital editions of our books and they promote those, while we promote our print copies. That way we have two entirely different audiences coming at us. We got lucky. For the most part of twenty-six years we have done it all ourselves from day one, and we urge all independent, underground writers to do it yourselves.
Nicole: Keep going! Try some of the small presses and online lit mags looking for new submissions. Start there to get read. Keep pushing. Just donâ€™t give up. I donâ€™t find shame in self-publishing. I know Iâ€™ve hit a few walls along the way, as if â€œself-publishedâ€ is a dirty word or a bitter pill, but I just keep plugging along.
Is print really dead? Has digital killed it?
Nicole: I donâ€™t believe print is dead. Two of my favorite smells: opening a new book and opening a brand new album. Vinyl is back. First, it was cassette tapes, then CD’s, digital, streaming, and then (sound the horns) vinyl is back. I believe books and print will never go out of style. There is something absolutely magical about turning a page or just the weight of the book in your hand. No?
Tipping your toes across the countries you are from and where you have worked, do you find many differences, say from audiences in Italy to the U.S. to the U.K.? And what might be these differences, if there are any, in your views?
Tony:Â The difference between Europe and North America is the same now as it has always been. Europe has always been 100 years ahead of North America as far as art and culture goes. Their societies are more liberal, more open, the people who consume art in Europe want something experimental and real. In America everything is about a bang for the buck. The larger the explosions, the more people will go see the movies. It’s a bit better in Canada, but not much. Our books do best in the U.S., but that’s just because we are not in Europe and don’t have a foothold over there, though our books sell better there than they do in Canada. In Europe the mainstream books and movies look like the underground ones do here. They want to be challenged more than they want to be entertained. Here, everything is escapism.
You two are involved in many media, what do you consider yourselves (each) first and foremost, when it comes to your careers?
Nicole: A poet and writer with a heavy dose of visual arts.
Tony:Â I am a writer first and foremost, above all. Chronologically, I was a guitar player before I was a writer playing in an original bar band for many years, and I may even enjoy the act of guitar playing more than the act of writing, but I am obsessed with my writing, it is always on my mind.
Whatâ€™s coming for the future for both of you?
Tony:Â We are trying to make a rock and roll record; I am writing music and Nicole and I are going to co-write lyrics. We already have a bunch of songs (music only) recorded, just need to figure out the lead vocalist factor. Nicole is almost finished with her 1st novel and 7th book, and I am working on a poetry and photography book. We are also in the process of trying to arrange some personal appearances, some book signings, some small touring, but have nothing concrete yet. Always working hard, always…
Nicole: Iâ€™m currently seeking therapy so that I can take over our Instagram properly and appropriately. Â Hopefully, I can finish that first novella (possibly novel) and get our YouTube channel started and then growing.
Find Screaminâ€™ Skull Press here: Screamin’ Skull Press â€“ Renegade Prose and Poetry (screamingskullpress.net)