Yellowknife author launches her own publishing house

After self-publishing two books, a Yellowknife children’s author has started her own publishing house to help other northerners in their writing careers.

Lana de Bastiani, known for works like The Fox and My Boot and most recently Nick the Northern Special, is launching an imprint named Northern Special Books.

“When I did my first book, I felt like a fish out of water,” she told Cabin Radio. The Fox and My Boot was the final part of her master’s degree, circumstances that offered her more support than might be available to authors without a professor and an institution’s resources.


“The overwhelming part was still figuring out funding, how to even get funding in the North,” she said.

“Thanks to the NWT Art Council, we do have some pretty robust arts funding to begin with. But as a self-publisher, you don’t qualify for a lot of the federal grants.”

De Bastiani explained that though several companies help authors to self-publish, they often pair northern authors of children’s books with southern illustrators.

“Trying to give details about what they want their illustrations to look like is really difficult,” she said.

“What I’ve heard from people who have worked with some of these companies is that there wasn’t really a personal aspect to it, it was very business-focused.


“Personally, I don’t want anyone else telling me what needs to happen and all my timelines. I want it to be exactly what I want.

“And with my second book, is there a typo on the second page? Yes, there is. But that’s my own mistake. And that’s OK, because it’s my business.”

Since publishing her first book, De Bastiani says she has helped authors like Nikolai Deleff with The Bear and Ivory, and Isabelle Caron Hébert with The Greatest Gift. She decided now is the time to turn that support into a business.

“I just wanted to start actually having a publishing name behind myself and seeing, eventually, if other authors would be interested in publishing under the name,” she told Cabin Radio.


“I really enjoy doing this. I’ve gone through the learning process of what to price my books at, how to get them in bookstores, how to promote them, all of that – and so now I want to help other people do the same.”

Illustrator Janet Pacey (left) and Lana de Bastiani launch The Fox and My Boot in 2018. Photo: Supplied

Although De Bastiani’s background is in children’s literature – her grad-school research focused on what makes a Canadian children’s book classically Canadian – she hopes to take on writers of all styles as a publisher.

“I’m by no means a professional in, say, novels, but I have learned enough about northern publishing and the northern world and navigating businesses in towns and sales,” she said.

“With that information, I can help other people. I feel like I’ve been building a wealth of knowledge and I enjoy sharing it, and I’m at a point where I would enjoy being a little more involved with people’s projects.”

Once she has settled into the publishing role, De Bastiani plans to release more books of her own.

“I’m still really busy with Nick the Northern Special sales, but I want to take some time when that’s over to help support other authors,” she said.

“I have some other books planned already, but that’s a couple years out. First, I want to really get into this and help other people try to reach their dreams, too.”