Good morning everyone!
I decided to splurge for another month and picked up August’s Scribbler box! As you know from my past unboxings, this is a sort of unique box in that it’s not intended to push a sensational new release. Scribbler is more a care package for writers and each month focuses on a specific theme or skill and elaborates ways to master it, and provides opportunities to connect. For readers who are aspiring writers, this is an interesting box and every six months or so, it lures me back in.
This month’s Scribbler theme was “hook”.
In writing, the hook is that first impression… first sentence, first paragraph… it’s the thing that really lures you in and generates curiosity. Writing a good hook is so important because when you’re querying, you have such a limited opportunity to snag the attention of an agent. The hook has to be top notch. It’s one of the top ten things in writing I struggle with, because I know the weight of it.
So even though I had only planned on buying July’s Scribbler… I knew I had to get this one as well. You could say they hooked me in. *audience boos at bad pun*
There are a few things in these boxes inspired directly by the theme. One of these is the book, of course, but the other is the writing passport. I love these pocket-sized advice booklets. They go into detail about the specific element of the book and present what is basically a short essay on refining your skills.
These are probably what interests me most about Scribbler, and I really like that they offer them for sale individually as well as in the boxes, because sometimes I want to know about the TOPIC, but really don’t need all the extra STUFF that comes along with it. You know how it is.
Scribbler’s also starting offering an add-on item every month to go into the box as well. I totally missed this in July and tried to sneak July’s item in, but no luck, they were already sold out. I was able to get August’s item, though, which was another one of these little passports. This one is an essay on writing what you know.
Which. Let’s be honest. Is a thing.
From the extremes of “staying in your lane” to authors who think imagination > research, this is a topic that needs to be discussed. Since this booklet is an add-on item, it means they won’t be making a full box about it. That’s a bummer because I think this is a really important topic.
Rather than go straight into the goodies this time, I think I’m going to show you the writerly stuff first, SO, other than the passports above, Scribbler sent two other specific items to help with the process and give an inside look on the business.
The first is a printed example of a real-live pitch. I also love these booklets, because it’s not just someone telling you what they know – these are actual items that were used in the process with real responses. It’s about the closest you can get to hands-on without actually pitching yourself. As I’m very much someone who learns by example, these are so valuable to me.
Also included is a postcard with invitation information and a password to a live chat session with someone in the business! I don’t typically participate in these (to be honest, I usually forget about them? Also I’m working at 2pm on a Thursday!) but for those who value the Q&A sessions with an expert in a particular part of publishing, these are awesome.
Okay, on to the fun stuff.
Scribbler is one of my favorite boxes because everything they send is ultimately useful to me. Even some of the sillier things, like the above “Writer’s Block Relief” stress ball is something I will use from time to time. This item has already been relocated to my home office, where I suffer much stress. I imagine this will be infinitely useful for meetings.
Next, a package with eight sloth-shaped paperclips! These are not something I would typically buy on my own, but on that note… I challenge you to find two paperclips in my house. It’s a trick – you won’t find any.
My husband, who is a fan of sloths, thinks these are delightful. I showed them to him and the conversation devolved into sloth appreciation, and I guess if anyone’s interested in reading the Iron Druid series, there’s a sloth in it at some point and that is apparently very exciting.
I’ve put these aside to use with my notebook that I’ll be filling with notes on Rhapsody in Blue. I can see paperclips being super useful to mark important things, so these are both fun and useful! They aren’t box exclusive, so if you like them, you can pick up a set from U Brands.
They’ve also included a glossy sticker that can be put on your laptop or writing notebooks. I use these sorts of items sometimes. Basically, I keep all the book box stickers I have in a small boxes and look for them when seeking decorations. I have this weird relationship with stickers where I love them but have absolutely zero actual use for them.
Quality-wise this one is fairly nice. It’s a typewriter sticker about writing things. If you like this sort of thing, it’s good; if stickers aren’t your thing, you probably won’t like this.
The last useful item in the box was this totally gorgeous constellation notebook. Color me enamored – this is exactly the sort of thing I would pick up for myself. It’s lined for writing and is just oh-so-pretty, I couldn’t be more pleased and other than the book itself, this is my favorite item in the box.
I was sort of chuckling when I pulled this out, to be honest, because I have been on sort of a constellation kick lately! I just had to replace my laptop case and there’s constellations on the new one… and I picked up a new shoulder back with some subtle constellation designs as well. My favorite part was that they all arrived in the mail on the same day. I think the stars are trying to tell me something.
Okay, okay I know you are not here for bad puns. I don’t even know why I’m being this person today.
Finally, the book!
This month’s book is Opium and Absinthe by Lyda Kang. I am pretty excited about this one, because it’s one I already had on my TBR! I think this is the very first time Scribbler has sent a book that I already knew I wanted to read. Most the books I get from this box are ones I’ve never heard of, so this was a delightful change of pace.
The book also comes with a signed generic sticker plate, which is kind of cool, but not as cool as tip-in sheets. Opinion.
So as a box I did like Scribbler’s August offering. Nearly all the items will be used (probably not the livestream, and not the sticker, for a while). I am really pleased about Opium and Absinthe, which as a newer add to my TBR was way down on the list and now that I own it, it has a greater chance of getting some recognition sooner, so yay.
In general, I do like Scribbler. I really do.
However, I’m starting to notice a pattern. It may be a coincidence and I’m just hitting the wrong boxes, but I’m starting to feel like Scribbler only affiliates with Amazon Publishing. I don’t think it started this way – I received their first box, and I don’t think it was an Amazon company publisher. I get how these relationships are good for the box itself and partnerships are important in business. However. I really, really dislike Amazon as an overall company. I have some vey strong feelings about Jeff Bezos, and I don’t like supporting them. In any way.
And this is totally unfair to the authors, by the way. I’m sure Lydia King put out a great novel here and I’m looking forward to reading it. But I wish there was more variety in publishing companies, because now that I’ve noticed this correlation, I’m feeling like every time I support Scribbler, I’m supporting Amazon, and that’s a bummer.
Based on this, I am definitely halting my relationship with Scribbler. At least for a while. I’d like to see if they do branch out to non-Amazon-affiliated publishers before reconsidering my relationship with the company. I think they have a decent product, but lets face it, book boxes are a dime a dozen and I’d prefer to support one that isn’t handing over a large chunk of my subscription payment to the Evil Empire.
So yeah That’s a bummer.
Do you try to learn skills about the writing craft when you read books? It’s something I’ve started doing over the last few years – I think more as I learn to read critically. What about you?