Goodreads Ratings and the Curse of the One-Star Review


For those returning visitors who may be finding yourselves a bit disoriented, welcome to the new Inkless, fresh from a facelift and chemical peel.  Feel free to poke around and explore!

Book reviews.  Authors love to have them.  Perspective buyers love to peruse them.  Readers can sometimes be successfully cajoled into leaving them if there is some kind of valuable bribe involved.  Those five little stars are so critically important to making sales and hitting goals that authors will bludgeon all their friends, acquaintances, Twitter followers, and blog browsers into leaving just a few kind words and a rating that might push them an inch or two higher up the best-sellers list.  We agonize over every criticism and nod our heads in agreement at every minor piece of praise, soaking up admiration like particularly snooty sponges each time a reader sees it our way.

A good review is one of the best things that can happen to a writer whose self-esteem hangs by a thread, and getting panned can sting so badly that it wipes out weeks of potential productivity as wounds are nursed and fragile egos rebuilt with the aid of cookies, kitty cuddles, and hard drugs.

But what’s worse than a bad review from a reader who didn’t like a character or felt cheated by an ending?  An unintentionally bad review, left completely by accident, that is still displayed prominently and drags down a book’s average rating.

Anyone who has browsed Goodreads has probably come across this painful phenomenon.  Books that haven’t been released yet have user ratings down in the two-and-a-halfs, or novels that have received nearly universal acclaim still have a smattering of one-star reviews next to random readers’ names.  These one-star users never leave a comment explaining their decision.  They may give four and five stars to everything else on their book list.  They appear callous, heartless, and careless: the enemy of all that is good about exchanging opinions with fellow readers; the bane of authors everywhere.

Why do they do this?  Because, most of the time, they have absolutely no idea that they are causing the author so much unwarranted angst.

In my experience, one-star reviews on Goodreads are nearly always the product of mistaken identity.  The user hasn’t the faintest recollection of having rated the book.

Before Dark the Night Descending was available for purchase, I had at least three one-star reviews on my record, and the first impression was terrible.  I was tearing my hair out.  How could anyone hate something so much when they hadn’t even read it?  No one was going to take a chance on the first book of a new, self-published series if it was already being condemned by the all-important stars.  It wasn’t fair, and it spurred me to action.

I messaged each of the users.   “It was just a stray click.  I was trying to add it to my reading list,” one said. “I had no idea – I’m so sorry,” said the others.  They were looking for an excerpt, or trying to click away, or perform some other harmless action that tripped them up.  All of the users involved retracted their reviews immediately and promised they would review my book again after they had actually read it.  Everyone was very nice, and I thanked them all profusely, but the experience wasn’t just embarrassing for both sides of the equation.  It should be totally unnecessary.

Readers trust Goodreads for advice from their peers about what to pick up during their next trip to the bookstore, and authors count on Goodreads for the publicity that keeps everyone in business.  So why is it so easy for readers to accidently mislead their fellows, hurting authors and the reputation of Goodreads in the process?  Why do we have to experience so much grief over something that seems so easy to fix?

One solution would be to require, as Amazon does, a minimum amount of text before posting a review.  But I can see why Goodreads wouldn’t want to change their dual-review system quite that much.  I like the fact that you can just leave a star without thinking of some pithy comment to put with it.  Leaving a star is easy, and encourages readers to rate more books more quickly, which is generally a good thing.

Another solution would be to ask a reader, “Are you sure you meant to leave one star?” before allowing them to submit the entry.  I suppose that might run the risk of artificially inflating the rankings of books that really are total stinkers – a snap review is often a more honest one, and I think that usually works in everyone’s favor.  You don’t want someone second-guessing themselves if they actually did hate something.

So here’s my answer: just make the reader aware of what they did.  Add a little pop-up to the review process that says, “You just gave a one-star rating to Dark the Night Descending.”  If they meant to do it, they’ll ignore the prompt.  If they didn’t mean it, maybe they’ll go back and change their mistake.  Everyone wins.  Authors won’t suffer, readers won’t be unduly inconvenienced, and the integrity of the Goodreads empire will remain whole.

Readers, does that sound fair?  Authors, wouldn’t you like to see a little more quality control?  Let’s make sure that what we’re doing matters, and that our opinions are properly counted.  That seems like a five-star idea to me.

Book News and Other Upcoming Developments


Hello, everyone!  I don’t know about you, but I’m finally ready to leave this cold, miserable winter behind in favor of budding trees, daffodils, warm sunshine, and a little taste of what’s coming your way this summer.

As you all know, I’ve been plugging away at Dark the Dreamer’s Shadow, the second book recounting the adventures of Arran Swinn, and I’m happy to say that it’s close to being in good shape for publication.

General release will likely happen at some point during the early summer, possibly in June (if I can get my act together).  The grand cover reveal and teaser excerpts are on their way, of course.  I may also be in the market for a beta reader or two, and I suspect my volunteers already know who they are.

In addition, I will be making my very first convention appearance at the end of July.  The ninth annual Pi-Con will be taking place in Connecticut from July 31 to August 2, during which time I will be participating in a writer’s workshop, contributing to some panel discussions on writing and fantasy, and doing a reading from Dark the Night Descending (probably), signed copies of which will no doubt be available for purchase.

I’m pretty excited to be taking part in the program, and I hope some of you Northeasterners will try to join me for moral support.  It’s not a huge convention, but it seems like a great place to get my feet wet and meet some cool, local-ish nerd fans.

So please wish me luck as I work to stamp out all those nasty typos that seem to breed in every work-in-progress.  I’m very pleased with the book so far, and I know you guys will be, too.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Where the Light Bends at the Cracks


I’ve been quiet lately.  Usually when blogs go quiet, first for a few days here, then for a few weeks after an apologetic update, it means they’ve started down an irrevocable road to the dusty, inactive server rooms of purgatory.  The number of blogs that are eventually abandoned is staggering – up to 95 percent, some sources claim – and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t contributed to that number three, four, maybe even five times before.

But this is not one of them.

The thing about writer’s blogs is that you only really have three options.  One, you document the ups and downs of your process in painful, monotonous detail, and bore everyone to tears.  Two, you turn it into an angst-dump for everything but writing, laboring under the mistaken believe that anyone cares about the reasons you’re not working on your magnum opus.  Three, you make yourself into a resource by gathering news and information, interviewing authors, writing book reviews, making connections, and generally offering a place for people to get something back from your work.

I’ve done all three to various degrees (I’m doing number two right now), and I’ve learned that the only blogs that even have a chance of surviving the depressing rate of attrition are the ones that tackle option number three and truly take off.  I think I’ve had moderate success starting to build a resource for people, and I like doing that.

The problem is that it takes time and investment.  Plenty of it.  I know this because that’s what I do for my day job, and it’s a lot of work.  In the past, I’ve had the luxury of having a few spare minutes in the afternoon and evening to pound out a few hundred words of helpful self-publishing know-how, or brainstorm a short story just to keep my fiction muscles limber as I work on bigger things.

But as most of you know, this has been a hard winter for me.  I’ve been sick – and I’ve only recently acknowledged to myself that that’s what has been happening.  Sleeping poorly has always just been a fact of my life, and I never considered it anything other than an annoyance that I needed to push past and get over.

Starting in September, for whatever reason, it turned into a full-blown chronic illness that needs medical treatment (on top of all the other conditions that contribute to the problem and are hellishly difficult to manage), and the process of receiving help has been so slow and torturous that I’m still waiting to set up an initial appointment with a second specialist who may be able to help me at some point – if I can get my insurance in order.

The tale is not unique.  If it was, I wouldn’t have a day job writing about how to improve patient management in the healthcare system.  And my problems aren’t as bad as other people’s problems.  I’m generally healthy; I can walk, breathe, see, and hear; I have full use of most of my faculties; I am not suffering with anything that will kill me sooner rather than later.  I’m grateful for that.

But it’s hard to be wake up every day so fatigued that my brain doesn’t have a chance in hell to hold back the depression and anxiety constantly waiting to pounce, or so groggy that driving to work becomes impossible, or so shattered and drained that I can’t do anything other than stare at the TV and eat things that are bad for me and cry and wait for the day to be over so maybe I can try again next time to stop wasting precious hours of my life.

So if you want to know why I’ve been quiet, it’s because I am keenly aware that the only things I have to say are gloomy and frustrated, negative and off-putting, and I’d rather go dark than spend time broadcasting the fact that I’m just not feeling well enough to do anything else.

I don’t like making the things that are wrong with me into the central feature of who I am.  I don’t go on message boards and hang out with other sleepy people, and I don’t want an Insomniacs Anonymous badge to wear on my lapel so everyone will ask me about it.  Sickness is a transient state of being: a separate entity that sometimes latches on to you, and I prefer to remember that instead of making my entire life about one single that’s happening to me.

Luckily, being sick hasn’t entirely stopped me from getting things done.  I’m doing very well at my job, because I’m pouring all the energy I have into it.  I still go to archery every week, whether I feel too tired or not, because I need to relieve my stress.  I’m still working on my fiction, albeit a little slowly.

Dark the Dreamer’s Shadow is a book full of frustrated people facing obstacles much bigger than themselves, and I think that editing it while in such a mood is a benefit rather than otherwise.  I’m very nearly done with a major pass at it, and I’m pleased with how it’s coming along.  It’s going to be a great book, and since I never heard back from that agent who expressed interest in the first one, I will probably be self-publishing it at some point during this spring or summer.

So there are things to look forward to, and reasons to keep my blog alive.  I’m not giving up on self-publishing.  I’m not giving up on anything, really.  I’ve just got to break this siege before I can attack the next targets I’ve set for myself.  I’m going to keep chipping away at everything, because the problems I’m facing are solvable.  The time will pass.  The appointments will get made.  The answers are there.

For those of you who want to stick around, thank you.  For those of you who don’t…well, I doubt you’re even reading this right now.  But I hope you will all come back for my next book release, whenever that may be, and celebrate the fact that no matter what you’re facing, there’s always a way to get things done.

Snowed Under, Bowled Over


As some of you may have heard, the Northeast has been experiencing a spot of weather over the past few weeks. A handful of blizzards and a couple of feet of snow might not seem like much to any of you who may live along or over the Canadian border, but for the Boston area, this winter has been one long ice cream headache.

We’ve been setting and breaking records this month, but the charm of being the best at everything (including that football thing, suckers) has left us with nearly 100 inches of snowfall to contend with. That means a lot of disruptions to my usual routine. Working from home, shoveling out my car, white-knuckle driving to the grocery store, continuing to lose sleep, and missing medical appointments has left me a little confused and agitated. Oh, yeah…let’s not forget that I spent an entire week curled up in bed with a knock-out bout of food poisoning.

For Inkless, that has meant another one of those pesky silences for which I have to issue my standard apology. Oddly enough, however, this whole snow globe shakeup has left me in a pretty good place, writing-wise. I’ve picked up the process of editing Dark the Dreamer’s Shadow, the second book in the Arran Swinn series, thanks in part to the little bits of extra rest I can get on a snow day.

I also have to thank the fact that I received a little bit of encouragement from the publishing industry last week. After indulging in a whim by submitting Dark the Night Descending to an agent pleading for queries over Twitter, I had my first ever request for a partial. This is awesome because a) it’s always nice to feel wanted, and b) the fact that the book was self-published already didn’t deter this agent from being interested in reading a bit more. I consider that a bit of a victory for all of us, regardless of the outcome.

I don’t know when or if I’ll hear back, or what the verdict will be, but the request was a much-needed shot in the arm for me. The dark and cold and endless digging with frozen fingers and fogged up glasses has left me feeling more than a little under the weather (literally), and it’s been a tough few months trying to keep my chin up. And when you’re so focused on trying to slog through each day without breaking down in the middle, you tend to forget that good things can happen in the world outside your ski goggles.

So whether or not spring is ever going to make an appearance, and whether or not I have a shot at traditional publishing, I’m going to keep pursing the things that make it worthwhile to dust off the car every day. My day job is going really well, archery continues to bring me much happiness while improving steadily, and Oliver has been beside himself with joy now that the snow has kept me home so much. And my birthday is next week, which brings with it all the artificial pleasantries the Internet has to offer.

The goal will be to stay warm, stay motivated, and work on my release, because follow-through is everything no matter what target you have in your sights.

Amazon Scraps Breakthrough Novel Award in Favor of Kindle Scout


Well, it looks like I got my (very irritating) ABNA experience on the books just in time.  The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is officially kaput, according to an announcement on the ABNA forums, and will be kinda-sorta-not-really replaced by the new Kindle Scout program.

Anonymous ABNA Administrator has this to say about the switch:

This fall we opened Kindle Scout as a reader-powered publishing platform that offers authors an opportunity to earn a guaranteed advance, a decision on publication in 45 days or less, the ability to retain print rights, and Amazon marketing for published books. Since launch, more than 20,000 readers have nominated the stories they want to see published and we have selected 16 original novels to be released early this year, with more chosen every week. In 2015 instead of hosting the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in its current form we will be using our new Kindle Scout program to discover and publish even more breakthrough novels throughout the year. Over time, we look forward to adding features to Kindle Scout and opening the program to even more authors and genres.

Lots and lots of angry ABNA hopefuls have this to say:

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Now, I’m no fan of the ABNA slaughterhouse, which starts with a lottery, moves on to the fickle finger of whimsical fancy, and ends with a bored Publisher’s Weekly intern slitting open your thorax and frying up your heart for supper.  But for tens of thousands of people, the international contest is a yearly source of hope in a world that is mostly about crushing your dreams.  ABNA cost nothing, was open to anyone in the world, promised big rewards, and perhaps most importantly, accepted novels that had already been self-published.

Kindle Scout, Amazon’s new show-and-tell that looks primarily geared towards romance writers (but accepts a smattering of other genre fiction), still costs nothing.  But it’s only open to Americans with American bank accounts, which has gotten a lot of foreigners up in arms.  And most importantly, will only accept entirely unpublished manuscripts for consideration.

This seems silly to me, considering what a huge player Kindle has become in the self-publishing world.  Everyone uses KDP.  Everyone is trying to grab a piece of the Amazon publicity pie.  Everyone knows you really can’t get anywhere without Amazon’s blessing…yet books published through Amazon’s own self-publishing system are ineligible for Amazon’s own cash prizes?

Step one: upload soul.  Step two: cry.

Step one: upload soul. Step two: cry.

That’s why this Kindle Scout thing isn’t a direct replacement for ABNA.  It’s also much, much more geared towards friend-farming than ABNA ever was.  Kindle Scout relies on public votes to push books towards the finish line.  So if you’ve got a massive Twitter following or a rabid Facebook hoard on your hands, you’re a million times more likely to succeed than someone who has written a damn good book but doesn’t have the social media savvy to get enough votes in 30 days to launch your submission into the top ranks (ahem…me).

In general, I think it’s another one of those things that’s good news for Amazon and bad news for everyone else.  Are we surprised?  No, probably not.  I wasn’t planning to enter the contest again, so it’s not too big of a disappointment for me.

But what about you guys?  Are you annoyed by this?  Does Kindle Scout look interesting to you?  Is it just another hollow promise on the part of a publishing goliath that chews up and spits out hard-working authors for fun?  Are you going to submit stuff anyway?  Let me know in the comments…even if you’re not American.

Short Story Thursday: The Red Mountains


This little story is mostly notable for being the first piece of anything fictional I have managed to scrape together in more than a month.  Thank you, what is sure to be a very temporary break from crippling insomnia.

The horse had come back alone.  Shela knew she couldn’t hate him for it – she couldn’t afford to hate him, now that she was alone, but that didn’t stop her from throwing a clod of crumbling dirt at his oblivious flank as he grazed peacefully on the few tufts of wiry grass that hadn’t burned.  The horse raised his head, staring idly at her as tears rolled down her face.

“You daft old fool,” she shouted, her dry voice cracking into a foreign croak.  She couldn’t afford the tears, either.  There was no water left, and now there was no Jament to help her try to fix the well.

There wasn’t even a shovel.  Everything had burned.  The horse had come back, expecting its warm stable and a bale of crunchy hay – perhaps a piece of dried apple, if Jament was feeling inclined towards a great degree of generosity – but its instincts had betrayed its master, dead on the road somewhere for all she knew, and now Shela didn’t know what she was supposed to do next.

She had never wanted to come to the horrible place to begin with.  The Red Mountains were no place for a woman, Jament had told her one night, his thumb gently twisting the ring he had put on her finger only six months before as they sat together, leaning on each other, warm before the hearth.  He was supposed to have gone alone, for just a year, to look for the gold that everyone said was hiding behind every bush and stunted, gnarled tree.

It didn’t matter that there was little food and less civilization, or that the soil was too poor and the roads too treacherous to do anything about either.  But they wouldn’t need to grow their own crops when they came back to the city.  They wouldn’t care about the bad roads that made it impossible to bring a wagon full of their tools to the forges hot enough to fix them, a day and a half away if the sun wasn’t out to cause their horse a heatstroke.

They weren’t supposed to care about any of that once they found what they had been looking for.  She had come with him out of necessity as much as dutiful love: she could not make enough coin on her own to support herself in the city without his wage to pay for their cramped, overly priced room.  It was a fool’s choice, and perhaps a false one, but she had followed him into the mountains, blindly and full of trusting hope.  There was gold out there, and all they had to do was find it.

She had done well, she had thought at first, to leave her city ways behind her.  She had learned to cook without a stove, and without ground flour and yeast and meat and fruit.  She had learned to haul her own water, while Jament was away in the hills, and wash their clothes on a flat rock, and clean their few possessions with the scouring root of the roughstock tree, dug from the clay with a second-hand spade.

But then one night, Shela hadn’t been careful enough about sweeping out the straw that covered their dirt floor, harboring little wiggling worms and bright red chiggers that made them howl in frustration during the hot, still midnights when their ankles itched like fire without end.

It was the fire that had taken their little homestead, a gap-walled hut cobbled together from all the ancient, knotty pine that Jament could drag into the vicinity.  They hadn’t had the horse back then.  They had found it, wandering thin and knock-kneed along the crest of the baking ridge that separated them from the dawn.  They had used so much of their precious grain to feed it back to health, recognizing the importance of the investment, going hungry themselves through the short, blazing evenings before collapsing into darkness, exhausted by their fruitless labors.

It was the fire that had woken them, but not before catching on Jament’s sleeve, rousing him with a shriek louder than the one he had once laughed at Shela for letting loose when a diamond-heart snake slithered into her cookpot and made it a cool, shady home.  There was no laughing when they raced outside, slapping their hands against his shirt to stop the burning before she remembered that he was supposed to roll it out in the dust.  There was no laughing when they watched, dull-eyed and frozen, as the hut snapped up into flame like a curl of parchment, a beacon in the starry night that no one was close enough to see.

She had used strips of her skirt to bind up his burns, caked in red dirt and redder blood and odd white patches of blister and bone as he shivered and shook with silent pain while the fever grew rapidly inside him.  The fire had taken the crooked well sweep and the bucket and the rope, and there was nothing she could do to quench his thirst.  She had pleaded with him to let her go instead, before the sun rose and sucked the last of the meager moisture from the air, but the bad road was no place for a woman, he had smiled weakly at her as he kissed her goodbye, and he had mounted the horse with his arm dangling down as he climbed slowly over the ridge and out of sight to fetch whatever help he could find.

And now the horse had come back alone.  Two days had gone already.  Two parched and hopeless sunsets had arced over her bowed and frightened head, which meant that Jament, if he lived, was too far away for her to reach in the unforgiving glare of the sunlight without any water to sustain her, already wilting as she was.  It was too far to town.  It was too far for somewhere that would just ask her for gold she didn’t have to treat her missing husband’s wounds, and no one would trade their time and precious medicines for a knackered old horse with no meat on its bones.

“Come along,” she said, yanking on his tether as it huffed at her in annoyance that she would interrupt its meager meal.  It was his last meal, perhaps, and she felt a little bad that she was taking him from it, but she would not die alone in the ashes with nothing but a stubborn horse to mark her grave.

Everything had burned, but if the fires they could make were hot enough to melt the metal of the spade and the flat-end hoe and the pincers and the cookpot that Jament had sold their city life to purchase, they would never have needed to make the long trip to town a day and a half away.  There was value in those, even without their handles, and whether or not her husband had survived his fall from the ornery animal, she would need them to trade for shelter and bread and the small comforts of the outpost village barely clinging to its ruddy outcrops of stone.

“Come along,” she repeated, one hand on the bundle of tools lashed to the small of his back with vines threaded under his belly as she turned away from the homestead without taking a glance behind her.  “This is no place for a horse.”

The Top Ten Self-Publishing, Fantasy, and eBook Stories of 2014

Victorian clock face

Hey there, guys!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (or at least a brief break from work/commuter traffic/annoying office mates, for those who didn’t celebrate).  I don’t want to distract you from composing your reviews of Dark the Night Descending, which I know you’re all doing in the final two weeks of my contest, but I thought I’d share with you an end-of-the-year roundup of the top posts on Inkless.  2014 was a good year for my humble little blog, and I think it’s kind of fun to revisit the stories that attracted the most eyeballs over the past twelve months.

Ready to count down?  Here we go!

10. Short Story: He Belongs to the Sea

It was nightfall when the blood came.  William had been set to sitting and watching, so the surgeon could attend to others.  He had never seen so much before.  The fall had cracked the old man’s ribs, a crunch and a cry as he hit the rail before tumbling over into the water, but he had swum to the rope that had been cast for him, and hauled himself back up onto the deck…

9. Short Story: Traffic Jam

Loneliness had its perks, she told herself as she slid her hands over the steering wheel, back and forth, three times, before they came to rest right next to each other in the middle again.  It didn’t matter if you kept your head down if no one ever asked you to lift it up.  She gently inched the car forward, as if kissing up against the bumper ahead of her would made the traffic clear faster, but it didn’t.

8. The Top Ten Twitter Hashtags for Writers

Whether you’re blogging, Facebooking, Instragramming, Tweeting, or (heaven help us) Snapchatting, social media is a primary part of our current cultural experience as well as a great way to make connections, promote your work, and blow off a little steam when things aren’t quite going your way.  

7. Yea or Nay: MS Word Book Cover Templates for Self-Publishers

Inside and especially outside, authors who may have a wonderful grasp of the written word often fail to translate that talent into the realm of graphic design.  I’ve talked about cover art before, and I’ve discussed the pluses and perils of the mysteriously hooded figure and the voluptuous temptress who could really benefit from a professional fitting.  Stay away from the cliché, I’ve always said.  But what if the cliché isn’t entirely what it seems?

6. 25% of Kindle Books are Self-Published, But Not for the Money

Self-published books distributed through Amazon KDP made up a quarter of the top 100 titles on Amazon last year, The Guardian reports, which is a pretty clear indicator that indie authors are entirely capable of putting out quality content that people want to read.  And they’re not doing it for the money, either.  Only 10% of self-pubbed authors publish books purely to rake in the dough.  Mostly they just want to be heard.

5. Blurb and Ingram Are Bringing Self-Published Books to Real Stores

Blurb, one of the older and more technologically robust self-publishing services out there, wants to help you solve the gaping hole in your lonely little heart.  They’ve partnered up with Ingram, the master catalogue from which booksellers buy their stock, to list self-published titles created through the Blurb platform. 

4. Death Be Not Proud: Mortality, Fantasy, and a Smidge of Rage

I was very much caught by surprise when browsing my Twitter feed this weekend.  Amidst the cat pictures and New Year’s wishes and hashtags, I came upon a New York Times Sunday Book Review interview of short story author and poet Russell Banks.  The lede caught my eye instantly and so inflamed my sensibilities that I instantly clicked on the full article, as the New York Times no doubt intended.  

3. There Will Always Be Someone Better Than You

There, I said it.  Okay?  They’re just always going to be there.  Selling more books, getting better reviews, using prettier words, winning more awards, gathering more Twitter followers…there will always be someone who seems smarter, more accomplished, more talented, and better equipped to navigate the rocky shoals of the publishing world.

2. Wait, There Were HOW Many Self-Published Books in 2012?!

When people say there’s stiff competition in the indie publishing world, they usually just mean it as a really ineffectual way to temper a new author’s disappointment at not bursting onto the best-seller lists by day two.  But it turns out they’re right.  I mean, they’re really right.  The sheer massive number of self-published books produced in 2012 alone will stagger you.

1. The Dirty Little Secret of Amazon Category Rankings

Pssst.  Hey, self-published authors.  I’ve got a secret for you.  Do you want to know how to get more exposure for your book on Amazon?  Are you confused about why a certain novel is on some ridiculously specific Top 100 list while you’re languishing in the #100,000’s for Fiction > Fantasy?  The Amazon KDP platform is generally pretty easy to navigate when you’re publishing a Kindle book, but there’s a hidden method to getting access to the more detailed category lists, which will expose you to a targeted audience and give you some ranking figures to boast about.