OH GOD. I have slept. In my own bed. I was away from home for twenty-four days. THIS IS A LONG TIME. I’ve only once been on the road that long, and that was years ago. Anyway, I wanted to posted to touch base with y’all and to let you know what’s going on in my world! IT’S A POST-TOUR POST. Get it.
I’ve now covered a good portion of the United States this year, and I AM NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BE DOING. That being said, I wanted to pull back the curtain a bit on what it’s like to go on a self-booked tour because THESE THINGS ARE FASCINATING, RIGHT. The truth is that I’ve involved y’all in the process of running Mark Does Stuff this whole time, and I figured it might help to explain why I say I’m so busy when it may seem otherwise. First of all, let’s talk about TOUR.
HOLY SHIT I’M IN CAPRICA CITY HELP ME (Photo taken by my longtime Buzznet friend, Gena, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting in Vancouver.)
Fifteen dates spread out over three weeks or so. Too many Greyhound trips. Weird burrito duffel bag man. Lots of laughter. No sleep. Holy shit, I’m still tired from this trip, even with two full nights of sleep under my belt since I got back on Thursday evening. But I sorta stole the whole idea and methodology from my days in the punk/hardcore scene, and I’m ultimately happy that I packed so many events into such a small span of time.
Before I talk about upcoming events, I wanted to spend some time discussing how this tour actually happened. As most of you saw, it was the community here that helped me find venues, either by providing one themselves, or by directing me to a place that I contacted. It was a lot easier to get this tour booked than the first one back in February, and that is largely due to the fact that I figured out what I did wrong during the Intensity in Ten Cities Tour.
If you recall, right up until about a month before I went on my first tour, I was working a full time job. My rent in Oakland is pretty damn cheap, and I have a very small cost of living. A handful of bills, deliciously awesome food, and factoring in BART/AC Transit to get around the Bay. For nearly a year, I was dumping money into savings in the hope that I’d soon be able to do Mark Does Stuff full time, and I wanted to have some sort of safety net in case things didn’t work out. I didn’t think touring would be a part of that, but still, I just wanted to feel a little bit safer. And so, I started booking my first promotional tour before I got laid off, believing it would provide the reason to give my boss as to why I needed to either quit or move to part time. I couldn’t do both things at the same time.
I think that my excitement for that first tour, coupled with the fact that I saved up a TON of money over the course of a year, led me to be a little to frivolous with my expenses. I didn’t stay in five star hotels every night, and I still stuck with Greyhound for 90% of the trips on that first tour, but I had hotels on six of those dates. All in all, factoring in four flights, five Greyhound trips, two Amtrak tickets, six hotels, and eating/entertaining myself, that first tour cost me around $2,100. I had to use a portion of my savings on that tour, but I didn’t feel too bad about that. I knew it was bound to happen. Thankfully, though, by the time I got to my last two or three dates, I’d actually made back that money from the Pigfarts tour, and I came home with $600. I was unbelievably and pleasantly surprised how generous people were over those ten dates.
And then Buffy happened.
Well, it had happened before that, but right around the second week of March, about the time when Angel and Buffy started being reviewed concurrently, a lot of you showed up. No, let me amend that: A FUCKING METRIC SHIT-TON SHOWED UP. And my lowly little hosting bill more than tripled in a week, jumping up to nearly $300 a month just to keep my sites online. (Before anyone says I’m getting ripped off: No, I’m not. It’s not just the bandwidth or traffic that’s setting things so high. It’s the memory. Unless I purge comments everyday for the rest of forever, my sites use an abnormal amount of memory that isn’t seen most places. I love the comments. They are staying.) Then my bike broke, then I lent money to someone who promised to pay me back in a week (SURPRISE THEY DIDN’T), and then suddenly, I’m booking another tour that’s longer than the last one, and then the tour is happening and by the time I reach the end of it, I don’t have any savings anymore.
Truthfully, it was bound to happen, and I thought this would happen sooner. This tour only cost me about $1,200 total, which includes all 13 Greyhound trips (DON’T DO 13 BACK-TO-BACK TRIPS ON GREYHOUND DON’T FUCKING DO IT oh my god i will never recover), four flights, one hotel room, and food for three weeks. Here’s the other thing I didn’t plan for: about four extremely tiny dates (less than 10 people showed up) and the fact that people in the Western half of the US, to put it bluntly, are not as generous as people on the East Coast. THIS IS NOT ME INSULTING YOU OR GUILT-TRIPPING YOU. I am so flattered anyone gave me any money at all and YOU ARE ALL WONDERFUL PEOPLE. But just in terms of both math and trying to run a business, I sort of assumed my intake each night would be the same as my last tour. So, unfortunately, I did not make back the money I spent on tour this time around. THIS HAPPENS. YOU NEVER MAKE MONEY ON TOUR. I know this! I have toured with bands (and done so with my own band) before. It’s the reality of what we do, and even in my case, with no guarantees whatsoever, I’m still shocked and humbled that anyone felt kind enough to give me a nickel. THAT’S SO RAD!
I don’t think I’ll be doing any large tours again unless I have some more support, or if I suddenly sell 10,000 ebooks next week or something. I seriously cannot fathom ever touring on Greyhound ever again in my life. It’s just too much. You would think that sitting on a bus for anywhere from five to ten hours would be relaxing in some way, BUT NOPE. IT’S AWFUL AND UNCOMFORTABLE and I’m pretty sure I left my sanity in the middle of Utah. I also plan on writing a book of some sorts about the weird society of people who travel on Greyhound. Actually, one of those stories will be part of Mark Tells Stories very soon.
I’d like to thank a whole host of people who helped out with the Mark Does Stuff Tour 2012, because honestly, a lot of it couldn’t have happened otherwise:
– To Doomie’s Home Cookin’ for hosting the biggest Mark Does Stuff event ever and still managing to feed all of us while I read the most disgusting fanfiction of all time. Is there video of this somewhere?
– To Maya for her help with a venue in San Diego!
– To Chelcie for help with booking an event and letting me sleep on her couch! Thanks to Brian of Spectrum UNLV for hosting my first real lecture. SO FUN.
– To Bookmaze in Phoenix for a ridiculously amazing night. Thanks to Jenny for letting me crash on your couch!
– To my lovely editor and friend Shiyiya for the potluck, the company, a place to stay, and for joining me for that awesome pizza in Tucson. YOU RULE ALL THE SCHOOLS.
– To Elisa for booking my event at the Percolator in downtown El Paso, for giving a place to stay, for showing me around the University, and for being spectacular company while I was in a strange new place.
– To Alexandra for picking me up from the Greyhound station, giving me a fabulous tour or Albuquerque, cooking me that AMAZING meal, and dropping me off for my first red-eye trip of the tour. To Linda for helping get me that awesome office space for the event and bringing me the most offensive thing I’ve ever read. Bravo, that wasn’t easy. OH, AND YOU BOUGHT SABRA HUMMUS IT IS THE BEST HUMMUS EVER
– To Sabrina, for taking it upon herself to book my date at an AMAZING space, giving me a tour of Denver, taking me to her gorgeous house out in Louisville, CO so I could nap and get a workout in, showing me around Boulder, CO and MAKING ME FALL IN LOVE WITH THAT AMAZING CITY, taking me out to dinner at a stupendous vegan joint after my event, and being an all-around amazing human being that I am flattered to have met.
– To Bethany, Alexa, and Kate for accompanying me through Salt Lake City, introducing me to my homosexual life partner Ashley, getting me a Lesbian Latte, giving me a place to stay in Logan, driving me to Boise, humoring me as I told you to take me to my childhood home, and generally being 100% fantastic forever. I can’t wait to have another Robyn party with y’all.
– To Larissa for giving me a place to crash and for the wonderful conversation!
– Oh boy, I cannot thank Rebecca Baxter enough. Thank you for going on this bizarre road trip with me from Spokane to Portland, then Seattle, then Vancouver. Thank you for introducing me to Angie and Katy and Katie and Ann and Briana and Hatter and JESUS HOW DO YOU KNOW SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE. Thank you for ALAN RICKMAN and for giving me one of the best weeks of my life, and basically making me an honorary Girl Scout? Like, for real, I NEED TO JOIN THE GIRL SCOUTS IMMEDIATELY, HOLY SHIT.
– Thank you to Shaz for driving me around Vancouver and to Gena for giving me a place to stay. I MET MY OLD BUZZNET FRIENDS FOR THE FIRST TIME AND THIS WAS SO EXCITING TO ME.
And thank you. So many of you came out to these events, and you gave me an experience I would choose to do again a billion times over. I had so much fun reading terrible fic, discussing nerdy shit, and laughing until I cried. Seriously, you give me hope for this world. THANK YOU.
oh god I’M NOT EVEN DONE
(No, for real, the buses in Canada apologize to you, and then the driver apologized to us for turning off the SORRY sign too early. Vancouver, god, you are an amazing city.)
Ascendio: July 12 – 15, Orlando, FL
I am currently on three panels. Maybe four? And I’ll be selling books. And signing stuff. And hanging out. And going to Wet N Wild at least once. And possibly hosting a local event outside of Ascendio, too. Jeez, you just need to attend. It’s going to be RIDICULOUS.
LeakyCon – August 9 – 12, Chicago, IL
I can now OFFICIALLY confirm that I will be at LeakyCon. I have one panel confirmed, we’re working on another, and I’ll be signing/reading stuff. Oh my god, SO MUCH FUN WILL BE HAD. If y’all are interested, I’ll do a second event outside of the Con if there is interest! THERE WERE SO MANY OF YOU LAST TIME. Let me know!
I am going to avoid doing long tours unless I have a better guarantee that a date will make me some money, only because at this point, I’m just operating in a way to keep my sites online and my bills paid. I would love to come out to Dallas/Denton/Austin/Houston this year, as well as New Orleans, and do some stuff in the Midwest, since I haven’t done much. Basically, just invite me places, I’ll string a few dates together, and we will DO IT. You can comment below or email me ( markreadsandwatches at gmail dot com) if you’ve got any ideas or leads on venues. I don’t want this momentum to stop, but I need a break until Ascendio to save up some money. Please let me know if you’d like me to come to your city!
Additionally, the more books I sell, the easier it is for me to get to these places. This whole project is self-run, so I don’t have some magical source of income. This is it! So even if all you can do is tell other folks about what I’m doing, that’s awesome, too! Plus, I have a donate button in the right sidebar, and if you’re ever feeling charitable, I will accept donations to keep Mark Does Stuff running. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!!!
ALC Fund/Bad Fic
Just a reminder that I am still reading bad fic on video to raise funds for my brother’s ALC fund. I am going to make the video for Rough and Ready tonight or tomorrow morning, and I am regretting absolutely everything. Anyway, donate TO HIM to your heart’s content so that I can read 50 Shades of Grey on video. Okay? Okay.
Posting and stuff!
I’m going to put my review of the Fringe finale up TOMORROW only because it’s a bit lengthy, since I’m also trying to address stuff I missed while on tour. For the time being, we’re still doing five posts per week on both sites. I have books and stories to write, as well as a whole lot of ALC training to do, so I don’t have the time right this second to increase my posting volume. Yet.
I have a new eBook I’ll be publishing VERY soon, as well as two new Mark Tells Stories coming out in the next two weeks. OH GOD STUFF FOR YOU TO READ. I’m also quite swamped working on the Mark Reads HP and the Goblet of Fire book as well!
Once I can free up some of my time, I’ll tackle Return of the King reviewing. I can’t guarantee when it will happen, but I will also give full reviews to Legend of Korra. I refuse to half-ass that show, so once I can write legit reviews for it, it will happen, I promise!
Thank you all for your lovely support during this time in my life. There is so much I’m doing this year, and I hope to meet even more of you. If you have any photos or videos from tour, feel free to link them in the comments for others to see. Thank you!!!!