By DAVID COLLARD
The author Neil Griffiths runs an engagingly low-tech YouTube channel on which he delivers informal off-the-cuff literary monologues straight to camera, occasionally swigging from a glass of red wine. While preparing a broadcast about his favourite novels of 2015 (see above), he realized that they had all originated with small independent publishers and this was, he says, "a Damascene moment that turned me into an evangelist".
Griffiths brings a convert's enthusiasm and energy to the publishing revolution that has emerged over the past few years – an equivalent, if you like, of micro-breweries, artisanal bakeries and hipster pop-up bars.
Griffiths's Betrayal in Naples (2004) won the Writers’ Club First Novel Award, and Saving Caravaggio was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award in 2007. At the end of February this year, after mulling over that Damascene moment, he launched the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, open to UK and Irish publishers employing no more than five full-time members of staff. Each publisher can submit a novel or single-author collection of short stories. A shortlist of eight books, decided by a group of independent booksellers, will be confirmed at the end of the year, and the winners announced in February 2017. Griffiths freely admits there is a "selfish reason" for launching the prize – he wants his third novel Family of Love to be published by an independent publisher because it is, he says, a "subtle" book about faith that would be "difficult for a major publisher to get on board with" (Griffiths's previous novels were published by Penguin).