Quick was nearing 40 before he began to seriously write. Prior to his years of authorship, he worked as a farm laborer, teacher, school administrator, lawyer, and politician. All vocations were held within Iowa and with only a few years of formal education.Quick was born near Steamboat Rock, Iowa. He educated himself through the books he read, and at the age of 16, he received an Iowa teaching certificate from an instructional seminar. After working as principal at the school in Wesley, Iowa, he studied law as an apprentice in Mason City, Iowa. In 1898, he was elected mayor of Sioux City, Iowa. Meanwhile, he had begun to write. His first book, In The Fairyland of America, was published in 1901. Upon becoming the associate editor for LaFollette's magazine of Madison, Wisconsin, Quick made his first and last move from Iowa; he was 47.His books include American Inland Waterways (1909), Yellowstone Nights (1911), and The Real Trouble with Farmers (1924). His works, both fiction and nonfiction, often reveal his passion for Iowa's land and his interest in Democratic reform.