SPP196 Writing to Your Market Versus Writing to Your Muse

Self Publishing Podcast


Today is a special episode: Johnny, Sean, and Dave directly respond to a listener question, one that they’ve been asked very often. Do you follow the market, or do you follow your muse?

Also, the guys have a big announcement today that involves the 200th episode of SPP and giveaways!

  • The guys announce a very special episode 200 of the Self Publishing Podcast! There will be giveaways and more!
  • Something cool: Dave did a movie review of The Boy – he loves this horror movie but no one else does; Sean loves John Wick and loved it, but Dave disagrees because it breaks his ‘rule’ about pets; Dave shares a sick, disturbing, post-apocalyptic cool thing; Johnny finally saw The Force Awakens.
  • Today the guys address a listener question concerning writing for your market or following your muse and writing what your heart tells you.
  • Seans talks about Invasion and how it’s a commercial, market-centric book, and how the tone is shifting more toward their hearts. He contrasts that with The Beam.
  • Johnny talks about being in tune with your audience versus writing for a market only.
  • The guys announce (for the second time) the name of their NEW SERIES!
  • Sean talks about whether the new series is commercial/market focused, or if they followed their muse.
  • Sean gives his universal rule, no matter what your story is.
  • Writing what you don’t love, don’t understand, don’t know, is NEVER a good idea. Sometimes following your muse can forge a new path.
  • Johnny gives his opinion of once your inside the story – do you write what the market wants, or do you let your character and narrative develop? Easy answer…
  • Dave talks about certain genres that have rules you CAN’T break, and you have to write to your market.
  • Writing something amazing, even if it’s outside a genre, is always better than churning out luke-warm, market determined stories.
  • You DO have to make some money to fund your art, so the guys explain their strategy when it comes to market versus muse.


  1. Another example of an unbreakable genre rule: In a classic murder mystery, a reasonable number of clues MUST be included as the investigation goes on and the murderer must be in the story from close to the beginning. If the murderer unmasked at the end just came into the story in the last chapter, or there were no clues available to the reader pointing to that person, true fans of the genre will feel betrayed and throw the book against the wall. This rule does get broken but typically when the author doesn’t know or care what the rules are or why they’re in place.

  2. One of the problems on talking about this is that I think it depends on the decision you’re faced with. If you have an Idea that excites you and you know can be commercially successful VS. a work-for-hire that you aren’t excited about that isn’t, well that’s a no-brainer. But if the choice is between a non-commercial idea that you really want to write, vs. taking your work to the same old place as everyone else? That’s a lot harder choice to make.

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