Words Alike
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Words Alike

Toby Yu: Published Author Highlight

Also known as Aurais on Discord. Welcome back to another Published Author Highlight who writes queer romance fantasy fiction, and is also in the medical field!

As a reminder, this series is all about highlighting the published authors of Words Alike and getting some insight on their publishing journey, inspirations and tips for others. Read along to learn more about publishing and what you can do to publish yourself.

Their first published book, Season’s Dragons Winter

Quinn: Hello Aurais! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us and provide an insight to your publishing journey. We’ll start off with one of the most important things: tell us about yourself.

Aurais: Hi! My name is Toby Yu. I’m a nonbinary author published under JMS books, and I write queer romance fantasy. They/them pronouns! Hmm, I’ve written about three pieces of work for JMS, as well as writing a few fanfiction pieces that I casually post on AO3.

Oh, and I also work as a Dental Hygienist! Busy busy!

Q: What inspired you to start writing and how did you go about starting?

Aurais: I had always been a creative individual but I think the moment it clicked was when I was in the last year of highschool, and I took a creative writing class. Unlike everyone else in my class, I had no issues freewriting. Ideas just came to me in a blur.

That’s when I realised I would probably make a good writer! It took about one or two books before it all clicked together, and yes. One or two whole completed manuscripts (They were not good, if you’re wondering).

Q: What was your inspiration for your book “Season’s Dragons: Winter”?

Aurais: I…really wish I had a good answer, but to be honest I have no idea.

I mean I didn’t even know I was a romance author back then

Q: What route of publishing did you choose? Tell us about your journey.

Aurais: For me personally I directly contacted smaller queer presses and submitted my works. I created a list of publishers that I’d be contacting, and went about making my queries. It took several months (and a lot of rejection letters) but JMS finally gave me a chance! Rest is history.

Q: If you could publish your book again, what would you do differently?

Aurais: I’d actually submit it to an agent. I think having the access to larger presses as well as having a professional handling contacts is better. There are lots of presses that don’t take direct submissions, so doing it how my younger self did isn’t always the wisest.

Q: What are your top three tips when it comes to publishing?

Aurais: Persistence, preparation, and knowing the industry. Publishers and agents have word limits and requirements because they’re trying to fit a certain theme or meet certain reader requirements. Most of your letters are going to be rejections because that’s the kind of industry writing is, and finally, there is no replacement for good research. Finding the right press or agent for your book is just as important as researching the time period fitting dress codes for your characters.

Just make sure to prepare a few (dozen) backups too!

Q: Tell us about your experience writing about queer relationships and identities

Aurais: For me I’ve always found writing queer relationships and identities to be natural. They are the kind of relationships around me, and they add a kind of dynamism that I don’t really get in straight relationships. For me there are so many other factors to queer relationships then just attraction.

As for identities I try to get a feel for what my characters identify as and are attracted to. I’d like to think a lot of the chemistry feels natural because I’m often discovering it alongside the reader, and alongside the characters. I wish I had something more (or less) to say, but my characters just are queer. Whatever they end up is who they are.

Q: Give us a random, but a personal favourite tip when it comes to writing in any form

Aurais: My favourite tip is to find your writing style. It probably will take a lot of work, but a style is what separates your writing from the technically component to the artistically brilliant.

Q: What is your opinion on the importance of being part of writing communities and networks?

Aurais: Important! I’ve been slacking on this department myself admittedly, but I try to stress that you need second looks and opinions on your work. There’s a lot of skills that require other people to build, and without a community you simply won’t be able to build them.

Huge thank you to Aurais (or Toby Yu!) for this wonderful interview and giving us a good look into your thoughts and process. It’s really awesome to see how you’ve progressed (especially as one of your first editors ;))

Again, you can find their first book here (and other books they’ve written on their Amazon!).

Join us throughout the week for more highlights and articles! Until next time.

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