The Folio Prize has confirmed it is to consider self-published entries, a move which has been welcomed by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).
Sixty titles on the 80-strong longlist will be put forward by the Folio's academy, made up of members of the literary community, and it is understood they will be allowed to select self-published works.
The remaining 20 will be called in by judges following publishers writing letters of support for particular titles. Self-published authors will be able to act as publishers and write letters of support for their own titles, which will then be considered to be called in.
Dan Holloway is campaign manager of ALLi's Open Up To Indies programme, which encourages prizes, festivals, the media and other bodies to be inclusive of self-published writers and works.
He said: "This is important news and greatly welcomed by ALLi's Open Up To Indies Campaign. Whilst self-publishing has been stripped of much of its stigma by a string of high profile commercial successes, the suspicion remains in some quarters, notably the media, that the self-published corpus is not a place to find works of outstanding artistic merit that could take their place alongside the works of a Hilary Mantel or Will Self or Philip Roth... And the closed doors of major prizes has made it virtually impossible to demonstrate otherwise."
Other major prizes refuse to consider books which have been self-published. The Man Booker Prize states in its rules that any novel submitted "must be an original work in English (not a translation) and must not be self-published". The eligibility criteria for the Women's Prize for Fiction states: "All entries must be made by an established publishing house. Self-published books are not eligible for the Prize."
The winner of The Folio Prize, which celebrates fiction in English from around the world, will receive a prize of £40,000. The inaugural award will be made in March 2014.