Cover Story: Quill's Will
Steve Mettee picks up ideas from the world around him. Traveling, reading the paper, browsing in a bookstore—he’s the type to notice what’s there and what’s missing, and think about how the publishing company he founded, Quill Driver Books, can meet needs and fill in gaps. And once he’s latched on to an idea, he’s loathe to let it go. “A publisher requires two things,” he says. “One is passion, and the other is optimism. If you haven’t got passion and optimism, then you shouldn’t be in this industry. When I get passionate about something, I can get behind it. I think about it when I’m driving down the street. It’s almost like I can will it to happen.”
Of course, after 14 years at the helm of his Sanger, Calif.-based publishing company, Mettee knows that willpower alone cannot make a book sell. (“I miss as much as I hit,” he confesses.) But his instinct and tenacity lie behind all of Quill Driver’s successes, from the recent New York Times best-seller “Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Diet” to the trend-defining survey of social-network marketing, “The New Influencers.”
A Quill Driver health book, “Could It Be B12?” was “overlooked by everybody” when released four years ago, he says. He continued to push the exposé of misdiagnosed B12 deficiency, which now is selling steadily, with a second edition in the works. “It became our mission because I believed in it,” he says. “I feel like we sell each one of those books one at a time.
“Certainly the large publishers have a reputation for putting a whole bunch of books out, and the ones that are not quick to come out of the gate get kind of ignored,” Mettee says. “As an independent publisher, we only do so many titles. We need all of our books to sell, so we’re out there battling. We will work a title for a year or two before it finds its market.”