Cold Reads

UPDATE 6/23/19: The 2019 Historical Novel Society Conference is now past. Our next conference will be in 2021. If you would like to see what previous Cold Reads sessions have entailed, please look at the description below.

All attendees at HNS2019 are welcome to participate in the Cold Reads sessions…


  • Real-time critique sessions of author’s opening pages offered by a panel of industry pros.
  • A volunteer reader cold-reads the first 2 pages (or less) aloud for the audience and panel.
  • Panelists provide their immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t work for them, and why.


  • There will be 2 Cold Reads sessions at HNS2019; one on Friday afternoon and one on Saturday morning.

How does it work?

  • Authors can attend either or both sessions. There is no advance signup.

Before the conference:

  • Authors must print six (6) copies of the first two (2) opening pages of their manuscript. One will be for the reader. The other four copies will be for each of the industry panelists.
    • Remove all traces of your name. Manuscripts must be anonymous.
    • 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.
    • Begin your first chapter one quarter to one third down the first page.
    • Leave 1” margins.
    • Number your pages.
    • Include a title as a header on all pages in case pages get shuffled.
  • Staple the pages of each copy together, then paperclip your complete entry, all five copies, together.

At the conference:

  • Bring your entry (6 copies, as described above) with you to the conference.
  • Hand your entry to the volunteer at the door at the beginning of the session.
  • Industry guests must offer constructive comments on what worked for them, and what didn’t work quite as well, from the pages that were just presented.  Each panel is asked to read and critique as many manuscripts as possible within each session. If the panel has heard enough to offer a helpful critique before the full 2 pages are read, they can stop the reader.
  • For authors: If your manuscript was not read during the first session, you may collect it at the end of the session and resubmit it to the volunteer at the door at the subsequent session. Participants whose manuscripts have been read may not resubmit (either the same manuscript or a different one) at the subsequent session.

If you have additional questions about the Cold Reads process, please contact Leslie Carroll at

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