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Finding Your People: The Secret Benefits of Rejection

I used to spend a lot of time stressing about whether or not people liked me.

It didn’t matter if I liked them. Even if I didn’t, I wanted them to like me, as if there was some secret score chart that would prove I was worthy.

Submitting your work to an agent or editor is kind of like that. As a writer, I pour so much of my heart and soul into my novels that it would be tempting to take each rejection as a personal attack.

But here’s why that doesn’t make sense.

There are millions of people in the world. To hope that everyone you meet will like you is kind of crazy. If you’re smart and sweet and popular, there are people who will hate you for that alone.

I’m an outspoken agnostic who swears like a truck driver and loves a cappella music. Obviously I’m not going to be to everyone’s taste.

My writing is dark and complex and will make you cry while it’s scaring the pants off you. That won’t be to everyone’s taste, either. If you’re looking for happy endings, I’m not your girl (most of the time). There’s a lot of great romance writers out there and I’d be thrilled to introduce you to them.

The trick in life–and in marketing your creative endeavours–is to find your people. The ones who will find your quirks and foibles intriguing. The ones who will love you and your work for all the reasons you’re different–not try to force you to conform.

They’re out there. Trust me.

I hate the expression, “Each rejection is one step closer to a yes” for several reasons.

  1. It’s not true. You might have over a hundred more to go.
  2. It’s maudlin as hell.
  3. It doesn’t make you feel better when you’ve just received one of those lovely “We regret to inform you that you suck” form letters.
So rejections, while perhaps not bringing you closer to yes, are weeding out the agents and editors who won’t understand your work. Maybe that “dream” agent would have made you rewrite your book a thousand times before he dropped you like a hot coal. Maybe he’s one step away from becoming an author himself. Perhaps that publishing house is about to fold.
You just never know, so why not find a way to take it as a win? Agents who reject you are like bad friends–you don’t need either in your life.
Keep trying until you find your people.
And get in the game. You’ll never win if you don’t play.
Has fear of rejection ever stopped you from pursuing a goal? How have you overcome rejection in your life?
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  1. Stephanie Faris

    I think back on all my rejections and am now glad they happened. It wasn’t the right path for my career–I just didn’t realize it at the time. It all makes sense on the end.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Stephanie. It’s always so great to hear from someone who has made it through to the other side. When you’re in the midst of it, it can be very painful. I think this is why lots of people give up, or never try in the first place.

  2. Crystal

    Oh lord yes! Fear of rejection has stopped me (or at least REALLY slowed me down) from pursuing a goal for exactly the reason you describe. I wanted people to like me, and I was afraid they wouldn’t like what I had written.

    I’m still not over it completely, and am working very hard to find my people. 🙂 Looking at it this way is very helpful!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Oh Crystal, you’re such an amazing person. And an incredible writer. If people don’t like you, it’s their problem…not yours. Any agent would be lucky to have you, and that goes for friends too.

      I’m glad you took the chance of publishing your work. That takes guts, and look how well it’s paid off!

  3. Chrys Fey

    You know, I recently heard this saying “What people think of us is none of our business.” Who freeing is that? I personally love it!

    I hate getting rejections, but I want to achieve my goals so much that I won’t let my fear stop me. 😀

    • Holli Moncrieff

      I’m glad to hear that, Chrys. I think rejection is the worst part of this business, whether it comes in the form of bad reviews, poor sales, or less-than-enthusiastic responses to query letters. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

      I love that saying too. Another good one is, “You wouldn’t worry about what people thought of you if you realized how seldom they did.”

  4. Rhonda Parrish

    What you said.

    People either like me or hate me, there is no middle ground. I have had whole websites and domains dedicated to hating me… Jo says fans are easy to get, haters a little trickier, so I try to look at it that way LOL

    Also, you’re my kinda people 🙂

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Aw, thanks Rhonda! You’re my kinda people too.

      Whole websites and domains dedicated to hating you? Wtf? Why the hell for? Are they writers you rejected? You must be a very strong person to handle that. I’d be a wreck!

    • Rhonda Parrish

      Dude, I WAD a wreck LOL Then I got over it. (Mostly)

      This was from before I was doing the editor thing… and honestly, I’m still not 100% sure why they hated me, they just did.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      That’s so strange. Well, at least you rose above it. People like that clearly have issues.

  5. Tui Snider

    Oh, yeah… Rejection! Yup, I’ve had my share.

    And, alas, I’ve bought into other people’s negative reactions before, and shoved my creative dreams aside because of it… many, many, times!

    One reason I love the internet so much is that it allows me to connect with kindred spirits such as you! 🙂

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Aw, thanks Tui! I’m so glad I found you. I love your blog and hearing about your travel experiences. You’ve done it all!

      I’m glad you’re not shoving your dreams aside anymore. It’s hard not to give negative people power, but when we do, they win. And that’s not cool.

  6. Steven

    The worst rejection I ever felt was from my family. After that, anything readers, agents, etc. have to say doesn’t hurt much.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Oh Steven, that’s so sad. I wish I could give you a big hug. I’ve certainly been there. That’s why I love the saying, “Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”


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