Industry Q & A with Alvina Ling

Alvina Ling is the Vice President, Editor-in-Chief at Hachette Book Group/Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

When and where did you start working in publishing, and what was your entry-level position and title?

I started here at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (when we were based in Boston) in August 1999 as an Editorial Assistant. I’ve been with this company ever since, now as Editor-in-Chief!

How did you find your first job in publishing?

Short version is that I found out about the opening at Little, Brown from my supervisor of my Horn Book internship. Long version is that once I decided I wanted to work in publishing, I bought a book called Making It in Book Publishing by Leonard Mogel, and followed its advice. The book said that bookstore experience was a plus, so I found a bookseller position at Barnes & Noble. The book also said that one had to live in either Boston or New York, so I moved from CA to Boston. The book recommended that I do internships, so I interned at both Charlesbridge Publishing, and the Horn Book. So, I’d say I owe a lot to that book! 

What drew you to start working in publishing?

Reading, of course. I’ve always been a bookworm, and in fact, when I was studying Mandarin Chinese in Taipei, Taiwan after graduating from college and trying to decide what industry I wanted to work in, one of my friends said to me, “Have you ever considered book publishing? You’re always reading!“

What are some things you learned in publishing that helped you grow in your career?

I’ve learned to not take things too personally. I’ve learned that publishing (life, really!) is a relationships business. I’ve learned that selling skills and public speaking/presentation skills are important to success as an editor. I’ve learned to care deeply about my work, but also to let things go. And, I’ve learned to always remember what I love about my job—try to focus on the positive.

What advice can you share for young professionals, either looking for an entry-level position or currently in junior-level positions?

Network like crazy! Go to book events. Meet authors, illustrators, agents, editors, publicists, etc. You never know where opportunities will come from. And, of course, read like crazy and know the market. That’s so crucial, no matter what department you’re in. 

Kheryn Callender is an Assistant Editor of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

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