A conversation with the CEO of Penguin set me thinking. If writers are increasingly turning to self-publishing, why shouldn't publishers turn to self-writing? Think of it. Imagine you are a global publishing magnate. Your business is assailed each day with dire propositions from gormless agents who can't tell a good book from a wheelbarrow. Even when you find something half-decent you've no idea whether it is going to sell. You have a back-catalogue full of duds waiting to be pulped or remaindered. What other business allows its products to be invented by amateurs? Did Steve Jobs and his team sit round waiting for hopeful agents to submit product ideas? Of course not- they commissioned an expert- me- to tell them what to sell.
It is time for a quiet revolution in publishing. One by one let us change our email addresses and phone numbers so that the agents can no longer pester us, and let's make the commissioning editors actually commission. Let them engage cohorts of professional writers- as full-time members of the staff- and let them market-research, design, develop, test and produce the novels of the future. Let us end the reliance on the contingencies of amateur authoring. Let us bring the work of product development in-house and do the job properly for once.