The Great Hierarchy of Books & Authors

One of the things that annoys me most about the bookish community, both online and off, is the way that some authors look down upon others. From what I’ve seen and heard, this can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which being the genre or readership for which an author writes, or because of the gender of the writer—most of the time, female writers are looked down upon when writing in certain genres, which is really disappointing to see. But what I want to discuss today is something different. I want to talk about the supposed hierarchy of authors, and why those who self-publish their novels shouldn’t be looked down upon.

It angers me that any author should be looked down upon because of what they write, or how they get published. Whether they have an agent or one of the biggest publishing houses representing them, or whether they chose to self-publish is irrelevant to me, and to most readers. But most of all, I hate the idea that some people have that those who self-publish do so because they ‘wouldn’t have gotten published any other way’ or because it was a ‘last-resort’, due to their writing quality being sub-standard. This isn’t true at all, and if you read Heart of Mist and some of the other awesome self-published novels out there, you’ll come to see just how wrong those people are.


To me, the authors that choose to self-publish are some of the most hard-working, determined people out there. To me, it doesn’t matter whether they approached publishing houses or agents first. What matters is the quality of the writing in front of us, and all the work these people did, often alone, to make their book available to all of us. The amount of work involved in self-publishing a book astounds me, and to see so many people take this journey alone, or with only a couple of people to support them, just goes to show how relentless and persistent these writers truly are.

But I’m not saying there aren’t some terrible self-published books out there, because there are. Take Rocky Flintstone’s Belinda Blinked, for example. And there are also some terrible books that have been published by big publishing houses, such as one of my personal least-favourites, Stealing Snow. Great and terrible literature exists everywhere, and, of course, it’s all subjective. My point is that there are some people who assume self-published novels are sub-standard to those traditionally published, and that’s just not the case. It all depends on what agents and publishers are looking for at the time, and what they think will sell. Take a look at Ellie Marney’s latest release, No Limits. She wrote a fantastic post about her self-publishing journey here, and she highlighted that she wanted to get a book out there, and the usual avenues were unavailable to her.

And then there are some traditionally published authors who refuse to acknowledge that those who self-publish are just as legitimate as they are. They have a right to be in the author community just as much as anyone else does, and to me, it’s absurd that one person would think that they’re ‘higher up on the author ladder’ just because they had their novel traditionally published. To me, if you write, you’re an author. There aren’t authors who are better than others just because they choose to publish their novels in different ways or by using different avenues. Sure, some authors can be better people, but that’s not what I’m arguing. Anyone who writes is an author, and there shouldn’t be this whole metaphorical ladder that people try and reduce other writers to. If you’ve written something, those authors with multi-million dollar deals aren’t ‘more of an author’ than you are. Being an author is a state of mind, not a paycheque or being on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Which leads me on to Heart of Mist, one of my most-recent reads by an author who chose to self-publish. Wow. Just wow. I absolutely adored Heart of Mist. This novel is one that deals with a lot of issues, from alcoholism to war and hatred, all against a high-fantasy backdrop. This is a truly dark tale of one girl’s fight for survival, both against herself and her struggles, as well as against those who threaten her life. The world in which the author created was one that captivated me from the very beginning, and I loved how quick this book got to the action. I was thrown into this new, dangerous world from the first page and I loved being absorbed by the narrative and going on this journey with our brave, strong protagonist, Bleak.

One of the things I loved most about this novel was the way Bleak’s addiction was dealt with. It’s rare that we see alcoholism in YA, and so it was really refreshing to see the way this was portrayed. I also really loved getting to know all of the characters. They were vibrant and genuine, and I loved how badass some of them were. But they also had their flaws, and Bleak did get on my nerves at times, but that just highlighted how realistic they all were. They were flawed people all dealing with their own issues, and I loved how three-dimensional they were. It really was a treat to be able to read this powerful, entrancing novel. If you’re a fan of fantasy and want to support a phenomenally talented, self-published Aussie author, then I highly recommend picking up a copy of Heart of Mist.

Let's Talk

Do you read many self-published novels? Who do you consider to be ‘authors’? What are some of your favourite self-published novels? I’d love to know!

Thanks to Helen Scheuerer for providing me with an eARC of her book in exchange for an honest review!

Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

Heart of Mist bookIn a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.

The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles.

You might like


No Limits • The Color Project • Aurora


Graphics used in header sourced from Zzorna Art and Winged Graphics.



12 thoughts on “The Great Hierarchy of Books & Authors

  1. Really great to see this expressed so well. There is something very human about creating a hierachy around ourselves and it is (almost) always unhelpful and damaging. I guess writers are human after all….I think you nailed it when you said that readers really don’t care a jot about how a story gets published. As a reader all I want, is to be eganged by the characters (and to a lesser extent the plot). Well done for blogging this. Love it. Adam

  2. That’s a really interesting post. The topic regard me in a certain way, since I want to be an author, yet in my country – Italy – competition is strong, even between self published authors. Also, people have a strange approach to books here, really different from some dynamics that I observed in the rest of the world. Even readers tends to look down to self published authors, who sometimes tends to be mono-genre. But’s a long story.

  3. I definitely agree about self-published authors – doesn’t make them any better or worse than those who aren’t self-published. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I agree with everything you mentioned, especially your statement of, “anyone who writes is an author.” I see it as art and if you’ve created something then you are technically an artist in whatever form that creativity takes regardless if you are self-published or went through a large publishing house.

    There will always be good and bad in many a book. I have seen some I would read instantly, and others I wouldn’t touch with a stick, but I am still so very happy to see people achieve a dream, to create, to produce written works. There are still times I am in awe that so many people have created, have worked, and have inspired others to write and I wish I could personally congratulate each one for actually writing a book as it is no small feat. The amount of creativity out there is amazing, it’s energizing.

    The ladder does exist in some aspect as there will always be the haves and the have nots. For the most part, however, we have an awesome community of highly creative folks supporting each other and anyone else willing to explore their creative sides with written words regardless of whatever genre, and where ever the work ends up. I say we all need to carry on and support each other, ignore the bad apples, and create!

  5. I would actually like to read more self published books, but they’re harder to find (especially because I live in India atm, and self published books often don’t have the rights for release here, or else Overdrive doesn’t have it) as well as less marketing. I did more or less enjoy The Color project though. And Heart of Mist sounds pretty excellent. I think I do have some bias against self published books, which is bad, but I want to read more and hopefully correct that. Thanks for this though provoking post!

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