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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The Red Pencil: 2015 Children's Africana Book Awards Winner

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Are ethnic cleansing and large-scale violence against civilians a topic that can be raised with readers between eight and twelve years of age? Pinkney and Evans’ The Red Pencil shows that this is indeed possible.

A huge congratulations to author (and CBC Diversity Committee member) Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrator Shane Evans!

Nikki Garcia: How I Got into Publishing

Assistant Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


To tell you how I got into publishing, I could start by mentioning that my mother always had a book in her hand, and taught me to do the same—or that I spent most of my time lost in books like One Fat Summer by Robert Lipsyte.

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These experiences definitely shaped me to be the kind of person who would find myself in the world of publishing but, honestly, the idea of a publishing career didn’t even pop into my mind until the day I watched Margaret Tate and Andrew Paxton (played by Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds) banter on the silver screen in The Proposal.

I remember that being a particularly difficult time for me. I’d just spent the last year working at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary while taking pre-med classes at night. Although I was proud of the idea of becoming a doctor, I wasn’t eager to go to work and class every day, but I didn’t like the idea of quitting either. Then one weekend, as I watched Margaret and Andrew throw humorous insults at each other, I noticed Margaret’s hardcopy manuscripts sprinkled across her desk. I was fascinated by the part where Andrew was trying to convince her to buy a manuscript that he loved. I remember thinking, Is this a thing? Does this career actually exist?! That night, I looked up the industry guides that my school had available, and ta da, there it was—an industry guide on publishing. Seriously…never doubt the power of media.

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A book can achieve success in many different ways – earning out its advance, garnering lots of engagement, launching the author into a new age category, reaching the market it was intended for, and more.
Each panelist (one marketing/publicity... High-res

A book can achieve success in many different ways – earning out its advance, garnering lots of engagement, launching the author into a new age category, reaching the market it was intended for, and more.  

Each panelist (one marketing/publicity director, one editorial director, and one sales director) will discuss the success of a single title and how it might be applied to others. 

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The Diversity of Success panel is open to anyone with a BEA conference badge, so come and join us on May 29th for this informative Children’s Book Council event at BookExpo America in New York!

ALA Announces 2015 Youth Media Award Winners

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The American Library Association (ALA) concluded its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago by announcing the top books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards.

Kwame Alexander received the 2015 Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor for his novel ‘The Crossover’ (HMH). The Caldecott Medal went to illustrator Dan Santat for ‘The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend’ (Little, Brown). Download the ALA press release for the complete list of winners and honorees.

diversityinya:

Congrats to the young adult finalists for the 2013 Bisexual Book Awards! 

  • Love in The Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, Henry Holt and Co. (Bisexual Speculative Fiction and Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction)
  • Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (Gravel Road Series), Saddleback Educational Publishing (Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction)
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Arthur A. Levine Books (Bisexual Speculative Fiction and Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction)
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books (Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction)
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam, Strange Chemistry (Bisexual Speculative Fiction and Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction)
  • Inheritance by Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Bisexual Speculative Fiction and Bisexual Teen/Young Adult Fiction)
  • The Elementals by Saundra Mitchell, Harcourt Children’s Books (Bisexual Speculative Fiction)
  • Coda by Emma Trevayne, Running Press Kids (Bisexual Speculative Fiction)

What a beautiful list from the unprecedented number of submissions (60 books) that were nominated.

Diversity 101: Religion in YA

Contributed to CBC Diversity by Aaron Hartzler

Every six months or so, I see an essay devoted to the absence of religion and characters of faith in young adult literature. Google “religion in YA” and you’ll see plenty of posts which rightly address the fact that only a small percentage of the books marketed to teenagers by major publishers include any reference to religion. Most of these are consistently found in historical fiction.

Studies show that a lack of religious content in YA books is not due to a lack of adolescent interest in matters of faith. According to Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (2005, Oxford University Press), 60% of teens say that religious faith is an important part of their lives, and 40% pray every day. Thirty-five percent attend weekly services of some kind, while another 15% go to church at least once a month. One in four report that they are “born again.”

I know these facts to be true—not only from survey data, but from personal experience.

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A panelist’s take on the Diversity 101 ALA Midwinter Discussion

Contributed by Connie Hsu

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This year, I had the honor of joining some very insightful, experienced, and passionate people on a panel sponsored by the CBC Diversity. The session touched on what CBC Diversity has been up to, with a focus on the Diversity 101 series we feature on our blog, as well as ALSC’s Día initiative, dedicated to helping librarians work with their community to build interest and excitement for literacy dedicated to all children from all backgrounds. You can find out more about Día (short for “Diversity in Action) here. (Shameless plug—their book list includes Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel by Diana Lopéz!)

Last year’s panel, which you can listen to here, introduced librarians to the CBC Diversity committee and our mission to increase diversity on all levels of publishing, from our authors and the stories they create to the professionals working in every level from this field.  And we in turn learned from a few participating librarians just how brightly passions burned for more attention to this mission.

This year, we brought a little more diversity to the panel. By diverse I mean that we included a terrific librarian representative (Ana-Elba Pavon from the Oakland Public Library) as well as a larger group of editors from a range of publishers (Dan Ehrenhaft of Soho Teen, Wendy Lamb of Penguin Random House, Cheryl Klein of Scholastic, who was our moderator, and me, representing Little, Brown Books for Young Readers).

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Alvina Ling: How I Got into Publishing

VP and Editor-in-chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


My father tells this story about me as a little girl and swears it’s true. I don’t remember it myself, but I choose to believe him. He said that one night, after he read a selection of books to me at bedtime, I asked him, “Daddy, why does everyone have yellow hair in the books?” He struggled a bit on how to answer, and said something about how that was the way the author and artist decided to make them. “Well,” I said, “When I grow up, I’m going to change that!”

Flash forward: after graduating with a degree in Mass Communication from UC Berkeley, and still not knowing what I wanted to be “when I grew up,” I decided to move temporarily to Taiwan (where my parents are from originally) to study Mandarin Chinese and teach English. Really, I was stalling for time while doing something productive. After about a year, I started thinking about what I would do when I returned to the U.S. Some of my friends were thinking about going into consulting (that was big back then!) or graduate school, but neither option appealed to me. Then one of my friends said to me, “Well, you’re always reading books. Have you ever considered book publishing?” There was (is) very little book publishing on the West Coast, and so I hadn’t really seen it as a viable career option. But when he suggested it, something clicked. I had always loved books and reading, so I decided to look into it.

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