My distributer asked for “comparatives.” That is, books written in the last three years similar to mine, which had been published by small independent presses, like mine.
“This is bullshit!” I patiently explained. “”Basically I don’t read books written in the last three years, and I don’t know any like mine, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t’ve written them.”
Milo explained that the distributor wanted its sales reps to be able to walk into a book store and say “The Schiz” and “Cheesesteak” were just like such-and-such so the store would know how many to order. And all the books he and I were comparing mine to had been written before the clerks and sales reps had been born. I said, “Okay.”
I looked on-line. I found nothing. I went to a downtown bookstore. The clerk was thirtyish, casually dressed, an untrimmed beard. I explained what I wanted.
He thought black comedies were “plays,” like, I guess, “The Jeffersons.”
“Day of the Locust,” I said.
He thought that was a satire. “What about Terry Southern,” he said after some reflection.
“Good enough,” I said. “But not the last three years.”
He looked on his computer. “It says Salmon Rushdie’s new book is a satire.”
“But hardly a small, independent publisher,” I suggested. “Let’s try something easier. What about a memoir. Preferable episodic. And…” I narrowed the window. “…by a white male, heterosexual, with no criminal past or substance abuse problems.”
He made a bee-line for the New Arrivals shelf and pulled out something by Mindy Kaling.
I told Milo I hoped the distributor would be happy to know my books have their markets to themselves.