Cold Reads


The Historical Novel Society’s 2017 North American Conference is offering four Cold Read Sessions; 2 hours on Friday and 2 on Saturday.

During each session, the first 2 opening pages of manuscripts chosen at random will be “cold read” by a volunteer reader, as a pair of top industry experts (a combination of editors and/or literary agents) follow along with their own printed copies of the pages. Then our industry guests will offer constructive comments on what worked for them, and what didn’t work quite as well, from the pages that were just presented.  As our aim is for audience members as well as the anonymous author whose work is being critiqued to learn and develop from the comments, we respectfully request that panelists restrain their inner Simon Cowells, amusing though it may seem in the moment.

For authors: If your manuscript was not read, you may collect it at the end of the session and resubmit it to the volunteer at the door at a subsequent session. Participants whose manuscripts have been read may not resubmit (either the same manuscript or a different one) at subsequent sessions.

Rest assured that the team will try to read and critique as many manuscripts as possible within each session. To give your manuscript a chance to be read, here’s what to do:

  1. Print three (3) copies of the first two (2) opening pages of your manuscript. One will be for the reader. The other two copies will be for each of the industry panelists.
    1. Remove all traces of your name. Manuscripts must be anonymous.
    2. Manuscripts should be printed double spaced with no fancy fonts. Times New Roman or Courier will do, in a legible 12 pt. font size. White paper only.
    3. Begin your first chapter one quarter to one third down the first page.
    4. Leave 1” margins.
    5. Number your pages.
    6. Include a title as a header on all pages in case pages get shuffled.
  2. Staple the pages of each copy together, then clip your complete entry, all three copies, together with another clip.
  3. Bring your entry with you to the conference.
  4. Hand your entry to the volunteer at the door at the beginning of the session.
  5. If you have additional questions about the process, please contact