Self-Publishing Tiers

With the advent of self-publishing, there's a lot of content out there. Some of it's good, but the rest... well, yeah.

A discussion on Reddit this week led to the categorization of the different types of self-published authors these days. Here was my spin on it. (Note this is mostly a joke, so please don't send me hate mail explaining why E.L. James is actually James Joyce reborn.)

  • Wanna-Be Tier: "I'm a layperson who has never written anything longer than a Highschool English paper, but I have what I think is the next great American novel. I'm going to write a 60k piece of crap, self-publish it, and when it doesn't sell I'm never going to write again."
  • Peasant Tier: "I'm an avid reader and think I can do it myself. I'll start a blog about writing, write a book or maybe two, and then get bored and stop after a year."
  • Hipster Tier: "I've taken several creative writing courses, and maybe even have an MFA degree. So naturally I'm God's gift to literature. I'll write a metaphor-heavy analogy for the human spirit, and when it doesn't do well I'll smugly declare that the industry is stacked against truly great prose."
  • Semi-Pro Tier: "I've been reading/writing for years. I've never been traditionally published, but I've recently decided to start self-publishing some of my less successful work. I have a moderate amount of success, and continue to try traditional publishing. I also frequent conventions and am active in the community. Hopefully I'll be traditionally published in the near future!"
  • Pro (but shouldn't be) Tier: "See you later, shitlords! I self-pubbed for a while, and although I'm not terribly talented, I've got a huge fanbase and have parleyed that into a traditional publishing deal." (EL James)
  • Pro (for realsies) Tier: "I self-pubbed for a while, got a lot of practice, and gathered a fanbase because I'm talented and committed. My hard work paid off and I've got some traditional publishing deals now." (Andy Weir, Chuck Wendig)