Hello, SEers! You’re with Mae, and I have a question for you—are attention spans getting shorter or do we have too much stimuli competing for our notice?
Remember when networks gave television shows an entire season to find footing and develop an audience? Those days haven’t been seen in ages. Now, if a show doesn’t make a splash right out of the gate, it’s a candidate for the chopping block.
I used to think I was above that kind of instant gratification—that I would give a program time to win me over. Recently, I realized of the last four Netflix shows I have tried to watch, I ditched three after only ten minutes.
Maybe because Netflix is like a big TBR. There is so much content waiting to be discovered, I don’t have the need to let something grow on me. I watch very little TV as it is, so it’s imperative my attention is wooed from the opening scene.
Much like with a book. I’m willing to bet that anyone reading this post has a TBR the size of Mt. Everest. We’re writers, and by default, readers. When you’ve got that many books waiting in the wings, how long do you stick with a new title if it doesn’t mesmerize you from the start? Are you more willing to grant an extension of time to an author you have read and enjoyed before, as opposed to a new-to-you-author?
I’ve gotten to the point where if a book doesn’t deliver in 1-2 chapters, I usually DNF it. I say “usually” because sometimes I will go back and give it a second chance, thinking my mood wasn’t right at the time (I’ve had a handful of those books turn out to be gems). For the most part, however, a DNF is a DNF.
What does that say about me? Has my attention span shrunk, or are there too many titles clamoring for my notice?
It makes me realize this is how agents and editors must feel. How long will they consider a submission before moving on to the next? If you’re looking for either, you can see the importance of making a strong impression from the get-go. That doesn’t mean your submission has to start with an explosive bang, dropping your reader into the middle of action. But it does mean you need to deliver a polished submission which engages the reader and—in the case of seeking an agent/editor—back it up with a strong synopsis. You don’t want to end on the DNF or rejection pile because you’re only one of many vying for attention.
Now it’s time for your thoughts. As writers and readers, have we become impatient? Have our attention spans grown shorter over time, or are we victims of being bombarded with too many options? How long do you give a book before you DNF it? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Ready, set, go!