I'm picturing a young Julie, a cute young boy comes up to her and says, "Hey wanna play doctor?" Julie shakes her head. "No, I don't have a medical degree. I'm too young to go to college, and I haven't even passed the prerequisite courses yet. What's the matter with you?"Bards and Sages (Julie) said:I guess the question is, am I a COMPETENT CEO or an idiot CEO?
This scenario assumes I'm an idiot and would have allowed the situation to devolve to the point where I have only a single writer in the pipeline. If I am a CEO of a real business in this situation, the business has ALREADY failed because I am unable to afford the electric bill without having a steady stream of books released.
The only way I can see this scenario is if the company has a significant financial cushion still in place and the Board of Directors hires me to replace the idiot CEO. So if I am Julie the Newly Hired CEO, I'm not looking to "force" a bestseller. A bestseller is not going to save the business because it would require too many resources up front. You need to be able to afford an enormous advance print run and a pricey marketing push. Neither of which is going to happen. Particularly in 6 months.
Assuming I have six months to turn the company around, I need a bunch of lower-risk returns on investment. I don't want a single bestseller. I want two dozen books that turn a profit.
First, I go to the editors and ask them what in the Blue Hell they have been doing? Because I'm pretty d*mn sure they each have stacks of unread manuscripts sitting on their desks. I give them one week to cull through the manuscripts and each find one or two books that can be published with some work. Because there is SOMETHING publishable on those slush piles.
Second, I call the authors who left and ask them why they did. Were there problems with royalty payments? Did the marketing staff not do their job? Because self-publishing is not the magic money maker people pretend it is, and trade authors who are making money and treated well don't wake up one day en masse and think "Gee, I want to self publish now." Something would trigger that exodus. If I don't identify the problem, I can't fix it.
Third, I'll go out and look at some indie authors who already have ebooks out and see about buying print rights for their backlist to get some stuff out the door quickly while waiting on my editors to produce new material. In particular, authors with a successful series because hardcover omnibus collector's editions would be highly profitable. And as a publisher of a large publishing house, I already have the existing equipment and infrastructure to take a ready-made ebook and publish it for print distribution. Depending on how much money we have available, I might even look at some of the smaller micro publishers and buy them out, bringing the owners on board to replace my incompetent editorial staff!