Linear transient phenomena induced by flow non-normality in thin self-gravitating astrophysical discs are studied using the shearing sheet approximation. The considered system includes two modes of perturbations: vortex and (spiral density) wave. It is shown that self-gravity considerably alters the vortex mode dynamics; its transient (swing) growth may be several orders of magnitude stronger than in the non-self-gravitating case and two to three times larger than the transient growth of the wave mode. Based on this finding, we comment on the role of vortex mode perturbations in a gravitoturbulent state. We also describe the linear coupling of the perturbation modes, caused by the differential character of disc rotation. The coupling is asymmetric: vortex mode perturbations are able to excite wave mode perturbations, but not vice versa. This asymmetric coupling lends additional significance to the vortex mode as a participant in spiral density waves and shock manifestations in astrophysical discs.