This one is especially fun. I have loved poetry since childhood, have many volumes of it, have written some, won a few contests, published a couple. So, let’s take a look at a crazy mad bestselling poetry volume by Rupi Kaur: Milk & Honey.
Poetry books are not expected to be runaway bestsellers. How many book covers or blurbs do you remember (if you’ve ever been inclined to browse or purchase some). I still have vivid images in my head of some faves of mine.
Milk & Honey has a very simple cover design: black background, white bees and text. It stands out for its low-key design in high-contrast B&W. But let’s take a look at the back cover blurb:
That’s right. A poetry book with a poetry blurb. How absolutely perfect is that?
Analysis: The back cover description is a short poem. It’s in the poet’s own voice telling you, the book browser, the tone and subject matter–very personal–of the poetry found inside.
It’s also utterly accessible. The audience knows they won’t have to tackle the sometimes indeciperable, complex, modern poems that put many off poetry. The voice reads as honest, genuine.
The text is accented by a bee illustration. No deviation exists in the black and white cover design with black and white text and drawings from front to back: it’s consistent. Tone matches art: an individual voice with a single bee (echoing how personal this is, one person’s singular voice in verse, and referring to the title, as bees make honey.)
Even the bar code cooperates beautifully–lines of code, lines of poetry.
Inside, you find this same simplicity but reversed: illustrations in black on white, black text on light pages.
Key words: Strong, emotional key words draw in the sensitive reader or one whose life has had pain and required healing. That’s kinda universal, yes? They are these: journey, surviving, poetry, blood, sweat, tears, heart, hurting, loving, breaking, healing.
Conclusion: The genius of the back cover blurb is that it offers you the book information (genre, theme) with a taste of the contents (style, voice, look) in exactly the form you’ll find inside: stanzas, not prose paragraphs, with drawings, in B&W.
I think they did an amazing job presenting this. A totally successful poem-blurb.
Blurb Exercise: Can you echo in your blurb what’s in the book? I think you probably can. Ask yourself this: How can I present on the back cover or Amazon page or promo copy what’s inside in such a way that the browser actually experiences the content style and voice in the format of the work itself?
Take your recently completed manuscript–or WIP or already published book–and see what you can do. This should be fun if your book is not the usual novel or novella or straight prose work: a poetry book, a play, a picture storybook, an illustrated travel diary, an email-format memoir, a how-to with photos, a coloring book. Harmonize the outer with the inner.
If you wish, please share in the comments. I’d love to see what you came up with.