Would You Ask A Plumber To Vaccinate A Cat?

So back to the sadly neglected blog. You there, wake up at the back!

I can but apologise  and offer no excuses at all. Holidays, busy, blah blah. See? Pathetic. But I was moved to blog by a funny thing that happened last week, while I was in limbo. Not as in shimmying under a low-slung pole and putting my back out, but as in an in-betweeny-state (and yes, that’s a word).

I was back at the coalface with the under-fives, introducing them to the joys of literacy, but on much-reduced hours; the editor for whom I write a regular health column and other pieces was being unusually slow at getting back to me with a yea or a nay on my pitches; a book I’m due to edit for a publisher wasn’t ready for me yet; and the freelance job boards seemed chock full of the most boring, underpaid jobs in the history of… history. I pitched for a job to write about MATTRESSES. Grim. I had a few bits of fiction to be getting on with and not a lot else. Limbo.

But while perusing freelance opportunities I came across a blog about the unusual ways freelance writers have promoted themselves and pitched for work. This info was still sloshing around in the echoing cave I call my brain when a letter dropped on my doormat.

Estate Agent LetterThe names have been eliminated to protect the innocent. But I think you can probably guess it’s one of those ‘sell your house through us’ letters from an estate agent.

Trouble was, it was BAD.

Normally, these letters tell you in persuasive language about how desirable your road/village/county is; what great prices they got for Tom Cobley and all’s houses just down the road; how many eager buyers they have just queueing up to pay megabucks for a house exactly like yours; why they are so brilliant and/or cheap, and what amazing offer they have on for THIS WEEK ONLY.

Not this one.

It sounded more like a business report – one that was guaranteed to send everyone round the boardroom table to sleep. It didn’t promise me anything, or tempt me with anything. It was so STUFFY! “We feel you should consider…” “In the third quarter of the year…”. It also mentioned the name of a special thing they do (which it’s probably best I don’t name), but didn’t explain what it entailed or really meant. Plus it said, mysteriously, that they required properties in Brampton.

Fair enough. Except I don’t live in Brampton.

The trouble is, they’re not writers – they’re estate agents. It’s not their fault. How much training do they get in this area? I’m guessing it varies from ‘not much’ to ‘none’.

So, inspired by earlier reading about other writers who chanced their arm, I spent a few minutes rewriting the letter and then emailed it to the address the estate agents had handily included, along with a cheeky explanatory email entitled: Would You Ask A Plumber To Vaccinate A Cat?

“Well would you?
Probably not.
I doubt anyone would ask me to sell their house, either – or find them a new one – because I’m a writer, so that’s not where my expertise lies.  That’s where your expertise lies….”

etc, etc.

There were four possible outcomes here:1) It would pee them off and they wouldn’t reply. 2) It would pee them off and they would send back a very angry reply. 3) They would reply and say, yes, ha ha, we see what you’ve done there, thanks for your email, now s*d off. 4) They would reply that they were impressed and interested in my writing services.

I’ll be honest. I thought 3 was very likely, closely followed by 1. 2 certainly wasn’t out of the question. 4 seemed the least likely, and that was fine. I’d had a bit of fun with it.

Tense, are you? Wondering what the outcome was?

Just over an hour later, an email pinged back.

EA reply









I nearly wet myself laughing. But it does prove that sometimes, it pays to be bold when you’re in limbo. Ironically, I’m now out of limbo and have more work than I can shake a stick at. C’est la vie!

If you freelance, have you ever done anything a bit cheeky or mad in order to get work? Let me know! 🙂







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