It's not all doom-and-gloom out there for traditional publishers. After all, St. Martins just signed Amanda Hocking for a 4-book deal which will allow her to push her books into other shopping venues like traditional bookstores and mass-market outlets like Target and Wal-Mart.
In addition, revenues at Random House rose 6.1% which ain't bad. Their increased revenues were due in part to a 250% increase in e-book sales, which I consider a very good thing. Random House is one of the publishers who seem to be doing a pretty good job straddling the e-book and print markets, which gets their books into the hands of a lot more readers. For writers who sign with Random House, they have a shifting scale-rate for e-book royalties that range from 25% to 40%.
Other Press is raising it's e-book royalty rate to 50% and the change took place on April 1 (and it's not a joke, either LOL). Authors get that rate once they earn out their advance. Again, not bad.
So things are looking up in both the digital and traditional worlds of publishing and I commend authors like Amanda Hocking who are working in both independent publishing and traditional publishing arenas. Diversification has always been a key factor in success and I personally think this is an astute move on her part.
Like publishing, marketing is shifting too and astute authors have already recognized this. While much of the social scene is still "Me, first!" and "Look at ME!", marketing using "Look at ME!" strategies is simply not that effective any longer. The tide is shifting toward building an online community.
Let's think about it. What made authors like Amanda Hocking so popular? Talent? Sure--that's a given. And writing stories that resonated with readers. But beyond that, what she was able to do was to create a community of readers who shared their interest in her books.
The key was building a community.
When you build a community, you're shifting the focus away from, "What can I do to get people to notice my book?" to "What can I offer to the community?" It may seem like a subtle difference, but what is really entails is focusing on what your readers want or need, rather than what you want (i.e. to sell more books).
You need to interact with folks. Find topics to discuss that interest your readers. Tell them what you like and share your own interests. Build a community.