Thursday, February 11, 2010

#16 Who supports prison support (REtRO)

Who Supports Prison Support?

I had actually not intended to blog today, and had not for the last few days because I was trying to find new ways to get new readers and support. Lots of people read my blogs, but I am always trying to get people to email me or support my writings. Sometimes it isn’t that easy.

Today I just got back from mailing my “Grades of Honor” books, 4 in total. Three to a great supporter in Michigan, and one to a great supporter in Texas. The guy in Michigan bought my 3 books, while the one in Texas had purchased my first two, and wanted my third one. It was the highest priority to send those out today.

So I wanted to get them all binded at Staples Monday, but they were closed for Memorial Day. So today I got it done, and wanted to mail them. I didn’t have the car so I walked to the post office to send them off, thinking I had enough. I took $20 with me, but found that to send the books by priority was about $4.80 each…and those were just the ones to Michigan. The one to Texas would cost me $7.20 to send, which almost floored me.

I didn’t have enough to send that one, so I had to come home to get the difference… about a quarter. But on the way back, I was kinda depressed about it; it never cost me that much to send my books, and it was more than I had counted on. If the rates are like that, I cannot possibly afford to sell my works at $25 each, even if $3 of that cost was for shipping. It had me wondering how I was going to make money selling these books if the cost to ship is so high. We’re not adding in the cost to bind the books, the cost for the envelope to ship the book and the cost for paper and ink…this was getting serious.

I got home and decided to check my email, since I had not done that in 3 days, and saw more spam than anything else. Damn….that is depressing.

I emailed the two people that I promised the books to, to let them know that I had sent their books off and thanked them for supporting me. I know there are hundreds of people who read my works, but most don’t support my writing, only read them. There isn’t anything wrong with that, after all if I post it, then it is free to whomever reads it, but there are very special people who believe in me and what I share, and they help me out by supporting my writing. Both have sent me a gift, which was deeply appreciated. So when they order one or more of my books, I make it the highest priority to make sure they get it.

And not only that, I sent them a few other things as well, and I hope they like it. The reader from Texas has always encouraged me about my blog book, which I have now finished. I copied the first few pages of my blog book to send her a sample, and put it all together to send.

I got enough money to mail the book, and got a ride to the post office. I waited about a half hour and got to the clerk to mail the book, only to find that I could have mailed it for less than $7.20. It cost me $2.85 if I mailed by MEDIA, rather than PRIORITY. Granted, I want my readers to get my books as soon as possible, but the cost of shipping was too great of a difference to ignore.

Mailing my books by media takes about 6 days, but I can live with that, since it saves me $5. When I set my prices for my books, I added on $3 for shipping, so that is about even. Having sent what I promised, I felt better about things.

But I wondered if I need to find a different way to blog. As you know, I blog on Blogspot, Myspace, Xanga, Soulcast, Blogstream, LiveJournal and Wordpress. No doubt people are reading my works, and some are copying and to send to others. But I have to find a way to reach those who are looking for help and to get more interaction from those who do read.

It’s kinda funny that awhile back I said that while I am alive and writing, people like reading my stuff but few will actually support it. But if I died and some publisher started selling my writings, the same people that would not lift a finger to help me when I was alive would be acting like they were my number one fan after I was dead. I can see thousands of people at those prison support sites writing all kinds of “nice’ posts about “the guy who used to write here”:

“I heard that Nolaw97 or masonik4 died and they put a book out on his writings”

“Yeah I bought that book at Books-A-Million, he is a great writer”

“I always read his stuff when he wrote for this site, he had so much stuff”

“Me too, I bought 3 copies and sent one to my son who is in prison”

Yeah, thanks a lot for waiting until after I die to support me.

Now that sounds cold, and I don’t expect anyone who is a novice on prison issues to understand that, but there is a lot of realism there. You know my argument about the hypocrisy about prison support. A person can write a prison book and sell it on Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million or Amazon and get tons of publicity on prison support sites, even if the author never made a post in his or her life.

But a person who has done time and has written for prison support sites can’t get the time of day from those same people. At times it bothers me, because I know there are people reading my blogs that want or need help, but are not opening their mouths to ask for someone to help them understand what they are going through.

So they just keep living in fear and depression.

I believe that my writing here is a good thing, one that allows me to share my experiences and sincerity, while openly asking people to ask me about things they want me to talk about. It’s like people are afraid of bothering me, but I would not ask if I didn’t want you to reply. I am not interested in spams and light conversations, although I DO appreciate the latter.

If you have a loved one in prison, what are you going to do to make it through another day? It’s not enough just to acknowledge it, you have to find a way to build some strength and faith. Why wait 6 months or a year before you try to tackle it, when MAYBE the answer is as simple as asking someone about it?

Now that does not mean you can email me about your loved one’s case; I am no lawyer, and I can’t read your 200 pages of the case to find out if your husband or loved one was guilty or unfairly tried. That is not my forte.

But if you have a loved one in prison and need to understand what prison is like, I might be able to help you. I can speak from one who has been there and am now here. I know the ups and downs and can talk about it. I have almost 100 blogs here now to prove it, and HUNDREDS more that I have written in the past, PLUS my books and other writings.

If you believe in what I am writing, then let me know, so I can continue to blog and help. Reading my blogs is free (of course) but if you want more about my writings or if you want to support my writings, then email me and ask me how to go about that.

If you need help, I CAN help, if you let me.

I realize the response ratio in prison support is low, but on some support sites it is ridiculous. I was looking at one site I had written for months ago, and compared my posts to views to comments. I was looking at Prisoners of Love, a site I had shared many posts on. I looked at one of the forums and saw that the site had not been as busy lately, because most of my posts were still near the top. But I noticed something:

I had about 20 posts on the first page, and looked at the average number of views per post…I average about 400+ views per post. So for all my posts on the site, I had a total of about 9000 views.

But only 3 comments.

Look, I know I am not the #1 writer on the internet, but I have 5 years of internet writing under my belt to know that something isn’t right. Even on banned sites I was on, if over 100 people read my post, SOMEBODY is going to say something, and most times it was “thanks for sharing that” or “God bless you”. If that many people viewed my post, somebody is going to say something or comment on it.

But only about 3 comments out of all 9000+ views. The response rate to that is like less than a TENTH of one percent. How do 400+ people read a post but no one responds? There are a lot of people out there who read and are afraid to comment, but not that many.

In general that might be possible, but even that is an extremity, but in a prison support site, the people there are likely those who NEED prison support for a loved one in prison…so how can 400 people view a post, and none have the courage to open their mouth and say something?

(note: views does not always equal people. A post can be viewed 100 times, but have actually been seen by 50 different people. If a person reads that post 3 times, it might look like 3 people read it, when it was only VIEWED by one person).

So the idea makes me think that one of two things might be up with Prisoners of Love: Either everyone there is too afraid to speak or ashamed of their situation, or maybe the site is augmenting the views.

I mean, if my posts average 400 views, then that means a hell of a lot of people are visiting the site, meaning there is strong support or curiosity for the site. But I am now wondering if that is really true. I am not the best prison issue writer in the world, but I think I am good enough to know that if one of my posts was viewed 400 times, the law of averages says that at least 1 person would have said something.

Let me show you what I mean:

I pulled up the site and looked under the “Mothers of the Incarcerated” forum. There are (as of this date of May 27th) 23 posts or topics on the first page. Of those 23 posts, I have 15. Here are my latest posts by title, replies, views and date of last post, in that order:

“This We CAN do” no replies 430 views Oct.26th 2007
“Don’t give up…” no replies 403 views Oct24th 2007
“A fool’s pity” no replies 460 views Oct.16th 2007
“Soul of Incarc…” no replies 418 views Oct16th 2007
“Worst day….” one reply 569 views Oct.12th 2007

Five posts…one reply…about 2100 views in less than a year…folks, something does not add up. And NO, it ain’t me running the numbers up!

I gotta tell you, I have reservations about this. In about half a year, there is that much traffic on my posts, yet NOBODY is saying a word? Not possible. Even sites that banned me cannot debate the fact that when I wrote, people responded. You can’t tell me that my post was viewed over 400 times, but nobody took the effort to make a comment. I am not willing to buy that. If my views were like 50 or less, I might be able to see that, but not when the numbers are that high…unless the numbers are not accurate. I cannot believe that there are THAT many people afraid of their situations that they can’t open their mouths and say something, rather than sit there in their home and just fear life and live depressed. Many, yes, but not all.

So is it possible that the numbers are manipulated to appear that the traffic is heavy? I went to another site where I have my posts, one called Prisonplace, and looked up under “Inmate Essays” my most recent 5 posts…

(note, I say “my” even though it was posted by someone else, but is IS my post, it was copied from my blog and shared there)

There is no counter for views, but my top 5 posts have 15 replies. I don’t know if that is based off a total of 50 views or 5000 views, but if you do the math, it is still a good response ratio. So I went to another place, one called Mothers With Sons In Prison, and looked under the “Your Story” forum for my last 5 posts.

My last 5 posts have 12 responses, and about 1100 views. Of the 5 posts, 2 have no replies but under 200 views, the others have more… and those posts were put up in 2006!

So something isn’t adding up right on the Prisoners of Love forum. If traffic is that heavy, then the by-product of that should be that the writers ought to have a few comments. The other examples have responses with fewer views, so how can this site boast that 400+ are reading the posts but almost nobody is commenting?

Go figure.

Anyway, just something to think about before I contribute to another site. At any rate, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask how to support my writings, or to ask about my “Grades of Honor” books or my new Prisonblog book.

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