Quality is Too Much Work

Monday, February 1, 2016

When did we stop taking pride in our work and decide that easy was better than good?

Take self-publishing, for example. For some people, it gives them an outlet for quality work that doesn’t capture a traditional publisher—perhaps because the author is unknown, the audience is narrow, or the work is experimental. I’ve self-published, and I’m glad the option exists.

But 95% of self-published books are garbage because it is too easy to publish substandard work. I’m a better writer than J.K. Rowling or Jane Austin or Stephen King or [insert your own choice here], so I don’t need an impartial opinion or even a critique group. I know how to type and I’ve spoken English all my life, so I don’t need an editor. I can search the Internet for photos and use a book cover program, so I don’t need a designer. [Unfortunately, I’m guilty of this one.] And with CreateSpace, I can input everything myself and get books for free. Or at least that seems to be the thinking of those individuals who are determined to publish at the expense of quality.

It isn’t just self-publishing, either. Today’s youth—and some who are not so young—seem to think that the best logos and web sites and brochures are the ones designed with templates that take the creativity out of the process. Even worse, they think that complexity is a substitute for contemplation and analysis. I’m getting a headache from all the garish event announcements I’ve been reading lately.

Take a look at the trademarks at the head of this post. Yes, they have gained recognition over time. But I also think they work because they are simple. Even the Microsoft logo is “just” four curved blocks of color. But each of those logos probably took months of intense research and design before it was adopted. Complex may grab people’s attention initially, but simple keeps their attention over time.

Quality is rarely easy. So when did we stop taking pride in our work and decide that easy was better than good?

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