FAQs 41


What is the Historical Novel Society?

We are a literary society devoted to promoting the enjoyment of historical fiction. HNS is based in the USA and the UK, but we welcome members (who can be readers or writers) from all round the world. Through our print magazine, conferences, website, social media, and dynamic membership we help bring the excitement of these novels to the widest audience. Find out about joining us here.


When and where are conferences held?

A conference is held in the UK each September of even-numbered years. The North American conference is held in June of odd-numbered year. Conferences are open to all persons with an interest in historical fiction—writers, readers, and industry professionals. You do not have to be a member of HNS to attend a conference; however, membership has its privileges, as they say, including a discount on conference registration.


Who can submit proposals to present at the conference? Who decides what proposals are accepted?

Anybody with an interest in historical fiction is welcome to submit a proposal. The Conference Board reviews proposed programs for quality and relevance to conference attendees. This volunteer Conference Board organizes all aspects of the conference.


When can I submit my conference proposal and how do I submit it?

Information about conference proposal submissions can be found on our Call for Proposals web page. For the HNS North America conferences (which is held in odd-numbered years), the Call for Proposals typically goes out to everyone on our mailing list in mid-July of the year before the conference and remains open for a period of two months. Staffed by a volunteer committee of working authors, the program committee cannot source panelists for programs & proposals. Authors seeking to propose a panel must have a full complement of panelists, plus a designated moderator on their proposal at the time of submission or the proposal will be considered incomplete and cannot therefore be considered. The best way to meet prospective panelists is to attend conferences, network, and make friends and contacts. Most presenters have at least one HNS conference under their belts before they consider becoming a presenter at a future conference.


Do speakers/panelists have to register for the conference?

Yes, all speakers must register for the conference or their programs will be canceled.


Do presenters get paid?

Each presenter or panelist receives a total honorarium of $50, regardless of the number of presentations in which they participate. The honorarium is awarded in the form of a check at the time of the conference (usually in the registration packet), or shortly thereafter. General conference presenters do not receive discount codes for registration. HNS2017 North American Conference would love to be able to offer higher honoraria; but in order to do that we would need to significantly raise our prices. We humbly thank each and every presenter for sharing their knowledge and experience with us and for making us better writers, editors, and researchers.


Are there chances to network at the conference? 

Yes, there are many opportunities to meet other participants. Every meal, session break, and reception is a chance to network.


What exactly is Blue Pencil Cafe and how does it work?

For information about our Blue Pencil Cafe, please visit our Blue Pencil Cafe web page.


What is a Cold Read session and how can I have my work included?

For more information about our Cold Read sessions, please visit our Cold Reads web page.


What are Koffee Klatches and how can I schedule attendance at those of interest to me?

Koffee Klatches are small informal discussions hosted by one or two authors. At the HNS conference in Portland in 2017 two types of KK will be offered: free-form discussions with no set topic; and themed KKs (focused on a specific historical era of subject matter, hosted by well-known authors writing in that era or subject). KK’s are typically held in small rooms, so the number of participants is limited; therefore, in 2017 we may require conference attendees to sign up to attend KKs at the time of online registration, with any remaining slots available for sign-up upon arrival at the conference.


How can I find the conference registration desk and meeting rooms in the hotel?

There will be signs posted in the hotel guiding you to all conference events. Meeting rooms will have the title of the sessions posted at the door. Our conference has most of the hotel to itself, so it should be pretty easy to find things. Attendees with volunteer badges can help, too.


Do agents or editors attend the conference and can authors pitch to them?

Agents and editors with an interest in historical fiction are invited to attend the conference. Attending authors can indicate preferences for agents and editors whom they would like to pitch when they register for the conference. All pitch appointments are arranged prior to the conference, so participants arrive knowing the time and date of their pitch appointment.


How should I prepare for my appointment? What if I faint? 

Deep breaths. Arrive a few minutes early so you can take those deep breaths. For more information, please visit our Pitching Etiquette web page.


Can I leave a workshop or presentation to go to my appointment? What happens if I miss my pitching appointment?

You can pop out of a session to go to your pitch though you might want to sit in the back or by the door to avoid disrupting the speaker and others. Our agents and editors are tightly scheduled. Channel your inner Aretha and R.E.S.P.E.C.T. the industry professional’s time. There are no make-ups permitted, unless you’re in traction or captured by aliens AND the agent or editor can squeeze you in. There may also be a waiting list to see some of the agents and editors, so if you appear to have missed your appointment time, a wait-listed person may very well have slid into the pitch chair and claimed that slot in your stead.


What if I see an agent at the water cooler in the lobby, in the restroom, or in the elevator? Can I pitch my book?

No, not unless invited to do so, which would be rare. A hello and smile are always good. For more information, please visit our Pitching Etiquette web page.


How will books be sold at the conference?

Authors who wish to sell books must sign up to do so when they register for the conference. We will have two bookstores at the Portland Conference, one for returnable and another for nonreturnable titles. Bookstores will provide authors with instructions on logistics as the Conference approaches. Books may only be sold at the conference bookstores.


How will the book signing be set up? Can I bring my own books?

The book-signing event will take place on Saturday afternoon and will be open to conference attendees and the public. To participate in the book signing authors must sign up when they register. We anticipate seating two authors per table. Name signs will be provided and authors are free to bring promotional materials. However, only materials that can be placed on the table (e.g., bookmarks, business cards, pens) are acceptable. Easels or large signage that might obstruct other authors’ materials are not permitted. Authors may display the books they have arranged to be sold at the conference bookstores; each book should be clearly marked as a “Display” copy.


Will the 2107 conference continue the costume pageant tradition?

Yes, but with an icebreaking twist. You are cordially invited to wear your costume to the Thursday night cocktail reception and Costume Contest, which, rather than being a “pageant” format in 2017, will be open to all attendees — and will be judged by all attendees as well! Get in character and mix and mingle. Maybe Paul Revere will call out a warning to the crowd or a King will meet his future bride! You may also wish to wear your favorite historical-era clothing to the Saturday evening banquet. For more information, please visit our Costume Contest web page.

What type of clothing is recommended in general for the conference and Portland?

Casual but professional garb will work well. The Saturday evening banquet is dressy casual, although some attendees have been known to put on the dog, the cat, and what have you. So if you do like to go for gala, why not! We will also be hosting an afterparty on Saturday night following our banquet. “Hellfire at HNS” will feature English Country Dancing with an instructor/caller and a musical trio as well as instruction in Whist. So if you’d like to wear Regency garb on Saturday from 8:45-10:45pm, go for it! In late June Portland’s weather is pleasantly moderate, but hotels are famous for showing off their air conditioning, so you may want to bring a sweater or second layer.


What can my spouse do while I’m attending workshops?

Aside from the pool, the spa, and the fitness center, there will be information about other attractions in your registration packet. Powell’s Bookstore is a mile from the conference hotel. Portland’s vibrant downtown is easily navigated by public transportation, and hotel staff can provide you with tips on getting around.


What do I do if I want to be a sponsor for the conference?

HNS is a non-profit organization. In order to keep our costs low for our members, we try to have commercial organizations sponsor different aspects of the event. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please see our Sponsorships web page for more information.


Do you have exhibitor tables at the conference?

To provide additional services to our membership, we do have an exhibitor area during the conference. If you are interested in becoming an exhibitor, please see out Exhibitors web page for more information.


What happens if I register for the conference and have to cancel my registration?

You may cancel your registration up to March 31, 2017 and receive a full refund minus a $50 handling fee. After March 31, 2017, we are not able to provide any refunds for cancellations.


Who do I contact if I need more information?

If you need additional information, please contact us via our contact form or leave a comment below.


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41 thoughts on “FAQs

  • Paul Daniggelis

    Does my novel qualify as an Historical Novel? It is set in 1941 on.
    Middle-aged Charlotte (Carlota) Townes is unaware that she has married the son of Morris Townsend, the antagonist in Henry James’ Washington Square. A condition of the marriage was for Charlotte to bear her husband an heir. Two years into the marriage there is no heir and not likely to be one. The Museum where Charlotte volunteers offers her a buying trip to New York which husband Montgomery rejects. It takes a pair of visions, an unexplained illness, and an attempted deviant sex act for Charlotte to defy her husband. Her journey to New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, reunited with childhood friend Carmen Castillo Cugat, sets in motion a series of life-altering events and the attempted murder of our heroine.

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Dear Paul, The matter of what constitutes historical fiction is debatable. Many people would say that WWII era (period of your novel) is historical, but some might think it’s too recent. There’s a lot of discussion about this in different forums, so you might want to just search around and and drop in on the debate.

  • Diana Cordileone

    Hi, i want to invite friends in Portland to the Reader’s Festival. Is is open to the public? When and what can they attend?

  • Carl Munson

    It’s Friday night, June 16th. I am a Society member and registered for the conference, my first. My wife has guest registration. Since formal registration for Main Conference sessions/workshops wasn’t apparent, I assumed I was to just show up. At this late hour, however, I’m not so sure. Could you give me some direction? Obviously, after attending one of these, I’ll have a better idea of what to expect the next time.


    Carl Jon Munson

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Carl, there’s no need to register for the sessions on Friday and Saturday of the conference proper. They’re first come, first served. It’s difficult to predict which ones will be popular and fill up, so if there are sessions you really don’t want to miss, just show up early. Koffee Klatches only will require signing up at the registration table since they’re quite limited in size.

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Each registrant receives a message with this subject line “[Your name] has registered for your event” upon registering. So you can search your emails for this and see what you signed up for (in terms of pre-conference workshops and other events requiring preregistration). Also, when you check in you’ll receive a program that describes each session and where it takes place. So once you have these two pieces of information you can plan your whole conference experience!

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Loree, Here is the relevant information from the registration form: “Cancellation policy: All cancellations are subject to a $50 processing fee, and no refunds will be made for cancellations requested after March 31, 2017.” There’s lots of information about the conference on the website, so you can take a more careful look and plan accordingly. Thanks for your interest.

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Hi Bev,
      As long as your title is available in time for the conference this will be fine. Authors on nonreturnable books will be provided with guidelines for bringing their books to the conference. Authors of returnables will be contacted by our other bookstore about how orders will be processed.

  • Loree Westron

    I hope to attend the conference and look forward to the opportunity of pitching my novel. At the moment, the HNS website lists eight agents and editors who for the 2017 conference. Is this a complete list, or is there likely to be others who sign up closer to the time? Also, is there a limit to the number of pitches a person can make? Thanks.

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Hi Loree. The list of eight is complete (barring any cancellations/replacements). We specifically selected agents and editors who are interested in historical fiction. You may pitch to up to two individuals. You can sign up for pitches when the registration form is released this coming Monday.

  • rita

    Planning to attend but must know approximate cost for conference and lodging. I am sure all HSN members want to know. If you don’t have it pinned down, perhaps an estimate? If it is $500 it means one thing but $1500 would mean another. Won’t you enlighten members with a ball park, please?

    Question: In years past there has been a Jewish Novel section. Will that be true of this conference as well?

    Thank you for your profound efforts. They are appreciated.

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Dear Rita,
      Registration opens next Monday and we’ll be sending out a blast with lots of details. Early-bird registration will be $400 for member, $475 for nonmembers. Once you open the registration form you’ll see how much it costs for the extras (agent pitches, special sessions, etc.) We don’t have a Jewish Novel section at the conference, but you can check all the sessions on our website at:http://hns-conference.org/program/session-descriptions/
      Hope to see you in Portland,


    I am the secretary of the M.m.Bennetts Award Board. I will be coming to Portland in June. The Board is anxious to have the same opportunity we have had during the past two years to announce the winner and present the MmBA award at the banquet. We are open for submissions beginning next week. If we can enjoy the same courtesy HNS has extened during the past two years, we assure you we will be organized and brief. Can you direct me to the appropriate person or persons concerning this request.

    • Maryka Biaggio

      We’re so pleased to hear you’ll be attending the 2017 Conference in Portland. Unfortunately, we
      won’t be having any award announcements during this conference. We’ve got a chock-filled program, including some brand new events, and look forward to seeing you in June!

  • Lauren Conrad

    I am so excited to attend. When do the sign ups for a la carte workshops occur, Blue Pencil Cafe, and more begin? Do you sign up starting on October 1st or do you sign up later when it gets closer to the conference? Thanks!

  • Teralyn Pilgrim

    I already asked this on the Facebook page, but just in case you see it here first, how many people usually go to the conference? A publisher wants to know to see if it’s worth it to pay for one of his authors to come. Thank you!

  • Mary Ann Trail

    I want to submit a proposal that I think would work best in a panel. However, I don’t know anyone with which to make up a panel. Will the conference organizers put together folks who are presenting on a similar topic?

    Mary Ann

    • Maryka Biaggio

      Hi Mary Ann, You must submit a complete proposal. The Program Committee doesn’t staff panels. So you can either seek out other panelists or retool your proposal as an individual presentation. Hope this helps!