Here’s what you need to know about Cold Reads sessions at the 2021 Conference.

All attendees at HNS 2021 were welcome to participate in the Cold Reads sessions. There was no advance signup to attend, but the deadline for submitting a manuscript page to be read was June 19.

These very popular Cold Reads sessions will be offered at the 2023 Conference.


  • Real-time critique sessions of authors’ opening pages offered by two industry panelists (literary agents and/or editors interested in historical fiction).
  • A volunteer cold-reads the first page aloud for the audience and panel.
  • Panelists provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t work for them and why.


  • There will be two Cold Reads sessions at HNS 2021; one on Friday morning at 9:00 (CT) and one on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 (CT).

Before the conference:

  • Authors must prepare the first page of their manuscript for the reader and panelists.
    • Remove all identifying information. Manuscripts must be anonymous.
    • Your page should be printed double-spaced with no fancy fonts. Times New Roman or Courier will do, in a legible 12-point font size.
    • Include the title at the top of the page.
    • Leave 1-inch margins.
  • Submit your page through Submittable by June 19. The Submittable link will be emailed to all registrants before the conference.

At the conference:

  • Authors attend either or both of the Cold Reads sessions.
  • The reader will randomly select as many pages as the panel can comment on during the one-hour sessions. Depending on the volume of manuscripts received, there may not be time for all submitted manuscripts to be read over the course of the two Cold Reads sessions.
  • Industry panelists will offer constructive comments on what worked for them and what didn’t.  Each panel is asked to read and critique as many pages as possible during each session.

If you have additional questions about the Cold Reads process, please contact Maryka Biaggio at

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