What is the point of a writer's website? This is a question I've been pondering lately, having been asked directly by a reader and also from talking with other writers. The issue is pertinent as my own website (www.wendymewes.com) has just had a major overhaul, having survived a recent cull in which I decided to deleted several websites and blogs in the interest of focusing my work.
The reader in question suggested very politely and with no obvious hint of irony that writers' websites should surely include examples of writing - which mine did not. I've ferreted around the web and seen that many other writers do not actually include even a single quotation from their work on their sites. It's true that titles alone often sell non-fiction books: if you're going on holiday to Finistere and like walking, my book Walking in Finistere is a likely purchase without much concern over style and ethos. But my serious and thoughtful reader is right and I've tried to rectify this lack.
What I have more problem with is the idea that readers have a right or a justified desire to know about a writer's background. Some writers' sites have lavish About Me sections, others are tantalisingly coy about their true persona. Whilst of course I find my past to be excessively interesting, I really don't see the need to give my educational, professional or personal history free of charge, as it were. Aren't I supposed to stick it in a book? Let the reader glean my all from Discovering the History of Brittany and Walking the Brittany Coast.
Fiction is another matter. I had a letter years ago from a reader about a character in Moon Garden. She felt sure that I had identified personally in the creation of this person - in fact, although like all characters this one was an amalgamation, I'd taken the essence of someone I thought particularly disagreeable...