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!


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Meet the Editor: Alvina Ling


Alvina was also a founding member of DIBs (Diversity in Books), a group of editors advocating for more diversity in the children’s publishing industry, who approached the Children’s Book Council in 2011 about creating a diversity initiative. In early 2012 CBC Diversity was born!

'PW' Panel Warns Industry, Lack of Diversity Threatens Publishing

Two of the three amazing panelists were a part of DIBs (Diversity in Books), the group of editors who helped create the CBC Diversity Committee. Alvina Ling and Stacey Barney not only talked about some of the barriers (to entry into the publishing world along with publishing more inclusive stories), but highlighted some of the amazing bright spots in publishing that need to be celebrated in this conversation. Some of these include:

  • Diversity committees instituted inside publishing houses
  • Titles written by and starring people of color that have reached the bestsellers list
  • Outreach to schools and universities (in-person and through virtual career fairs that introduce students early to the possibility of a career in publishing)

After about an hour of moderated discussion, the conversation was opened for audience participation. One question that was asked of the panel near the end was, “To continue to move the conversation forward, but also as a means to institute more action and change, what collaborations/partnerships/programs would you like to see instituted to help promote more diversity in-house as well as get more books supported that are written by and about people from different cultures?”

Some of the panel’s answers?

  1. More scholarship programs for publishing programs/internships to help with the financial burden of getting your start in publishing
  2. More partnerships with media outlets to cover more diverse offerings
  3. Finding a way to utilize celebrities to endorse reading cross-culturally
  4. More support systems to allow individuals to be in the publishing world (like mentorship programs)

I do think that things have gotten better. Of course, as has been widely reported, if you look at the numbers of main characters of color in children’s books, the stats have stayed stagnant. But I do think that the quality of books featuring characters of color has improved (fewer stereotypical depictions, more variety), and also, if you look at the total number of diverse characters in books, I believe the numbers would be vastly improved. When I was a kid, I could probably count the number of Asian characters in the books I read on one hand. Now I see them everywhere.

–Alvina Ling, founding member of the CBC Diversity Committee, in an interview with Goodreads on how she found her way into publishing, why diversity in publishing is complicated (but improving), and her newest multicultural project. Check out the whole interview here.