Call for Proposals for the In-person Sessions on June 9 and 10, 2023, San Antonio, TX

Submissions Open December 15, 2022 through January 15, 2023

Thank you for your interest in submitting a proposal to present at #HNS2023. Our tenth conference will be a hybrid conference that includes both virtual and on-site components with optional master classes on June 8 and general conference sessions offered throughout the day on June 9 and 10.

All proposals must be submitted via the Submittable platform. Click the button below to submit your proposal on Submittable.

You can use your existing Submittable account or, if you don’t have one, you can create a free user account at You may make multiple submissions.

This year, we are looking for submissions in four different programming tracks related to our conference theme as described below. That said, you don’t need to label your proposal with a certain track, and not all proposals must address the theme. The tracks and theme are simply guidelines to get your creativity flowing.  While we will accept a limited number of panels, we encourage you to propose solo and duo presentations, as well as our new Hands-On History sessions.

The theme for #HNS2023 is: The Working Writer

The last time we were able to get together was 2019. Since that time, the world has changed a great deal. During the pandemic, authors were obliged to explore new ways to find the space and resources to write. Going to the bookstore was not that easy and holding author events was even more difficult. Publishing went a bit haywire, and marketing required new skills and a lot of imagination.

What have we learned? What changes do we want to keep? What changes do we need to keep? Above all, how can we thrive, as writers and readers of historical fiction, in this new landscape?

We want to explore all these questions and more. Here are some things to think about:

  • How can we continue to write and appreciate historical fiction in this new era?
  • How can we embrace the lessons we have learned regarding access, outreach, and disparity?
  • How can we shape the future of historical fiction in a world that is dealing with so much rapid change and yet still bring the magic of escaping to a different time and place to our readers?

Let’s come together to share what has been working and what has not as we continue the conversation on supporting and promoting historical fiction.

Thematic content will be woven into the four tracks as appropriate. Not all accepted proposals will fit the theme (or should).

Talking About Tracks!

We are excited to accept proposals for the following programming tracks:

Track 1: The Craft of Historical Fiction: researching, plotting, writing, etc.

The craft of writing is the basis for all good HF novels. Let’s talk craft, but with our genre (and subgenres) in mind.

Consider topics such as:

  • Plotting the HF novel: How do you decide the structure of your book?
  • Researching HF: What is the line between fact and fiction?
  • Tropes in HF and when to avoid versus when to court them
  • Voice and what it means for HF

Track 2: Publishing Historical Fiction

The business of publishing HF is ever-changing, now more than ever. Navigating the many ways to get your work out there has become more challenging than ever, but recent times have also brought opportunities outside of big publishing houses. What have we learned so far?

Potential topics include:

  • Do you need an agent, and will any agent do?
  • The roles of beta readers, critique partners, sensitivity readers, and editors
  • Indie publishing: lessons learned
  • Small presses: How do they work?
  • Midlist v Big Books and is there a “low list?”
  • Trends—what’s hot and new and why!

Track 3: Marketing Historical Fiction: social media, readings, ad campaigns, extras

More and more, authors are tasked with the lion’s share of marketing their work. At the same time, the pandemic has changed the nature of how we communicate and where we connect.

Looking for topics such as:

  • Where are all the readers? Popular forums.
  • BookTok—what do we need to know?
  • Cover art, book plates, subscription boxes—hooking readers with a vibe.
  • Are book blogs dead? What does the next generation look like?
  • Virtual book tours, unwrapping parties, and other ways of engaging with readers.

Track 4: The Magic of Historical Fiction: art, music, passion projects, etc.

We all write and read about history because something about the past fascinates us. What is that je ne sais quoi? Let’s continue to explore how the human experience over the ages continues to inspire us.

Topic ideas include:

  • Today’s mores seen through an ancient lens and vice-versa
  • Painting, drawings, and sculpture as inspiration and topic
  • Musical genius through the ages
  • The intersection between folklore and religion
  • Fashion trends across geography and time

Types of Presentations

We are looking for three different types of presentations:

  • Panel. Panels are an especially valuable way to discuss a variety of perspectives on a particular topic or theme. Panels should consist of 3-4 persons, plus one moderator.
  • Presentation. Presentations can be offered by 1 or 2 persons with subject matter expertise on a particular topic. Workshops with interactive activities also fit in this category.
  • Hands-On History. The Hands-On History sessions are a new offering and are intended to feature a leader holding an interactive discussion/demonstration with a small group of people–props encouraged. Think textiles, trades, pastimes, artifacts, and more! These sessions will not be recorded and audio/visual equipment is not available for presenters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I bear in mind as I develop my proposal?

  • Your audience: Conference attendees represent international authors at every stage of the journey from novice writers to multi-published authors and including readers, bloggers, educators, librarians, and others with an interest in historical fiction.
  • Theme: This year, we really want to highlight presentations that give the audience usable and practical information rather than food for thought. We will feature some talks that are inspirational, but we encourage you to include resources that your audience can use.
  • The HNS conference focuses on all aspects of historical fiction from research to publishing. Conference goers are primarily storytellers and their readers. We are not looking for academic papers, but scholarship is appreciated.
  • Your proposals, and their titles, should be punchy and pithy. Speakers must be dynamic and engaging and be able to stay on topic for an hour, with Q&A. Excessive self-promotion is not allowed.
  • All presentations except Hands-On History will be recorded by a camera crew for on-demand viewing.

What information will be needed from presenters?

All presenters, including co-panelists, will need to submit bios, subject matter qualifications, and a headshot photo. For panels, the lead panelist must gather all panelists’ bios, subject matter qualifications, and photos and include them in the proposal in order for it to be complete. Photos should be jpegs or PNG, 300dpi, good quality images that clearly show the speakers face and don’t look blurry or grainy (pixelated). For those who have no idea about pixels etc., if you look at the photo at 100% scale on a computer and the face area is smaller than 2 inches then it’s too small. Image should look crisp and clear.

What if I’m submitting a proposal that involves an agent or editor attending the conference?

Please be aware:

  • Industry professionals have been invited to the conference primarily to hear pitches and participate in HNS’s industry-related sessions (such as Cold Reads and the State of the State sessions).
  • Adding an industry guest to your proposal may make it difficult to schedule because agents and editors are available for only limited time slots outside their other conference obligations.

What technical requirements will I need to meet in order to present?

Presenters are encouraged to use digital presentations and understand they will be recorded for limited access by paid attendees. Any handouts must be delivered as noted in any acceptance communications.

What else should I know about my obligations before I submit a proposal?

In line with the volunteer structure of HNS, presenters are conference attendees who volunteer to take an hour (or more) out of their conference time to share their expertise and knowledge on a particular topic with their fellow attendees.

Each general presenter, regardless of the number of programs on which he/she appears, will receive a $100 credit toward conference registration.Because we have dozens of sessions in our conference, this honorarium is our way of saying thank you for sharing your time and your knowledge with us.

Do presenters have to make a formal agreement to participate?

Yes, all presenters MUST agree to:

  • Register for the conference by March 15, 2023. You will be registering for live attendance at the early bird rate (lowest price). For HNS members, this rate is $489. For nonmembers, the registration rate is $539.
  • Inform Program Chair, Vanitha Sankaran, of any changes in their program prior to or during the conference
  • Provide any handouts or other documents by the date specified in their acceptance notice
  • Present their program at the assigned program time

Do presenters receive any remuneration?

Yes, as stated above, presenters whose proposals are accepted receive a $100 registration credit as an honorarium. Our Registration Chair will give you a coupon code to type in when you register for the Conference that will deduct $100 from your cost.

We look forward to seeing you!

The #HNS2023 Conference Board

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