Miss Nobody, The Randomer... A Writer by Any Other Name Would Still Win Ms Twitter UK

I'm back! May relative obscurity wrap me in its fluffy arms and say 'welcome home.'

In 21 hours, 7 minutes and 20 seconds Ms Twitter UK comes to an end. I'm 1048 in the lead so it's pretty likely that I will win. My long-standing online chums know there's always some method behind my mad schemes. This one has certainly been madder than most but I'm uber chuffed about how well it has gone.

As I've said before, my sense of self worth has never been bound up in this contest: my bid for the Ms Twitter UK crown was a cheeky attempt at subverting a cultural milieu that prizes youth and beauty over age and experience. It was always a bit tongue-in-cheek. Beauty and popularity contests have never been my thing. When I was the age of the celebrity in second place, I was deep in books on legislation, psychology, politics and sociology. I shook my fists at inequality and hated the fact that I had the kind of looks that made people say 'oh, isn't she sweet when she's angry?' when I laid into them about equal pay. This contest, for me and my book-loving followers, has been a fun way to promote the idea that the pen is mightier than the pin-up.

Miss Nobody - The Randomer

One thing I hadn't prepared myself for when I embarked upon this cheeky jaunt into Twitter stardom was how very seriously other people would take it. The best example of this is the endless abuse I have suffered from fans of The Saturdays - a UK pop group. The person in second place is 'Vanessa from The Saturdays' and evidently a large number of teenagers were heavily invested in her winning this contest. On The Saturdays' official website were calls for votes and much celebration when she finally 'won'...except she hadn't won. I came out of nowhere and beat her. This went down very badly indeed.

The first wave of attacks came on Twitter. Two fans of The Saturdays launched missive-missiles at me and my followers. I found it quite amusing and adopted the title 'Miss Nobody' they had given me with some pride. I was perturbed to have lost my crown polish but otherwise was entertained by the exchange. My followers were of a different mind and retaliated. Who knew publishers, editors and librarians were such 'bad-asses'?! In the end, I chatted with the girls who agreed I wasn't 'that bad' and asked me to call off my followers. It all ended well enough and I thought that was the end of it.

When I noticed that the vitriol was continuing elsewhere, I blocked them and got on with my life. Days passed. I googled my name to see what impact the contest was having on my Google placement and found a link to an ant's nest of bad feeling.

About 50 pages of official 'The Saturdays' site had been set aside for defaming 'the randomer' who was stealing Vanessa's rightful throne. 'The Randomer' beat 'Miss Nobody' as a name so I also adopted that one. The pages and pages of utter drivel about me have given me some fairly impressive super-villain powers.

  • I can hack Wikipedia (isn't it open anyhow? That one's not a great super-power).
  • I can, and frequently do, hack into the Ms Twitter UK contest and change the results.
  • I have also hacked the Ms Twitter UK contest to stop people being able to vote continuously for Vanessa (obviously I left the 20 min delay in on votes for me just for a laugh).
  • Nobody votes for me for any reason. They are all brainwashed by me because of my hate for Vanessa (for whom I have no bad feeling whatever given that I'd never even heard of her until they started attacking me).

So, I am master hacker and brain-washer. If I had only known this sooner I would have chosen a different career path. Doh!

Game Over!

I have accomplished everything I set out to accomplish with this contest. My following has expanded but, more importantly I have shown:

  • Neither age nor wealth, physical ability or mobility need be a barrier to success online,
  • The book community is HUGELY motivated online. This is significant information for those considering the digital future of the book industry,
  • I am good at mobilising an army of book lovers. This is comforting for whichever publisher decides to take me on,
  • I am now on friendly terms with some of the most important people on twitter and in the book industry
  • I have a platform to gain column inches. If I make a comment about the publishing industry/reading community on twitter it will have more quotability if I'm 'Ms Twitter'.
I'm of a 'job done' frame of mind now. When Ms Twitter UK ends I will automatically be entered into the European final and from there will go into the 'World' contest. I'm done. There is nothing more for me to prove, so I'm going to see if Tweeterwall will allow me to sit out the future contests. 'The pen is mightier than the pin-up' is a battle cry for cultural sanity, not a boast. If I win this and then bow out and get on with my writing, it will remain that way.

Will pop back on after Ms Twitter UK ends and let you know whether or not I won. Thanks for all your support. My followers are amazing.

Dave Bartlett  – (3 August 2009 at 13:49)  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angie Ledbetter  – (3 August 2009 at 13:52)  

You go big girl! Books over Babes any day of the week (not that you aren't a babe too)LOL!

PS Let me know if you need some crown polish tomorrow. :)

Dan Holloway  – (3 August 2009 at 14:02)  

The art of subtle subversion is to do everything with a cheeky grin on your face and a presumption that people will say yes. It's a technique that's served me well ("how did you get to do that?" "I asked" "Oh"), and one you have mastered to a tee.

May I ask if you would be so gracious as to stoop form your throne and honour an 'umble commoner by accepting an invitation to take part in a "taking on the mainstream" webchat for free-e-day (http://www.freeeday.wordpress.com) this December?

Rebecca Woodhead  – (3 August 2009 at 14:05)  

Angie: Books over babes! Absolutely! Books have a longer shelflife *lol at own joke* :)

The biggest triumph for me has been winning you over to the dark side - you're such a twitter addict now Gumbo Queen!

Dave: thank you for this comment. I've been thinking how to pull out after this contest for weeks but I didn't want my supporters to think I was letting them down. It's been so great being able to unite behind something in the name of books and 'normal' (non celeb) people. Though it's worth pointing out that some celebrities have also been very supportive. To be honest, I think they get peeved about celebrity culture too and liked the idea of us subverting this contest just as much as we did.

We're all battling with recession and swine flu and all this dreadfulness and it's great that we've been able to be silly but also to celebrate literature and discussion and international cross-generational chatter in the way that we have. It's been wonderful.

It's given me renewed faith in the ability of men and women to pull in the same direction too. Cheeky banter aside, the men following my progress have been every bit as determined for me to win in the spirit of 'the pen is mightier than the pin-up' as the women have.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (3 August 2009 at 14:35)  

Hi Dan. That sounds great. Look me up on facebook and send me details or DM me on Twitter. All my web places are linked from here - http://rebeccawoodhead.com - Give me a couple of days to stop congratulating myself and sending stuff to publishers (there's been interest) and I'll get back to you. Thanks for your support :)

P.S. Subversive? Moi? I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about. :)

Anonymous –   – (3 August 2009 at 14:37)  

that is the MOST PATHETIC thing I've heard in a long time!! Damn kids can steep so low!

Hope your okay!!! You deserve to win over some random from a z list girl group!!!

markpank  – (3 August 2009 at 14:49)  

Well done and well deserved, such a shame you had to endure so much mindless backlash. I wholeheartedly approve of efforts to subvert this sort of thing... a while back I made a similar attempt, which ended with me coming third in a beauty competition (!?) I'm relieved to say I didn't get nearly as much abuse for it.

Once again - very well done. :D

Adrian Kelly  – (3 August 2009 at 15:15)  

Hi Rebecca

'Crazy' people aside, it's good to hear you're making the right contacts - I'm always up to date with the best-sellers list so don't make me wait too long before I see you!

Shanelle  – (3 August 2009 at 16:02)  

I'm sorry to hear you're pulling out. I had no idea all that was going on. It's too bad, but I definitely understand your reasons. I just think it's awesome that you've done so well and we're all so happy for you. You're amazing!

Rebecca Woodhead  – (3 August 2009 at 16:21)  

Thanks for the comments :) Glad everyone understands what I'm doing. *Phew!*


I'm fine. It's probably a hard core few who are obsessed with their icon and a loose affiliation of others who aren't quite ready to think for themselves yet. They want to be significant and the only way they can think of to feel that way is to unite against a common enemy. It's just a bit of bad luck that they picked me.

There's probably a whole other group who love The Saturdays, are secure enough not to need to subscribe to the gang mentality but are a bit nervous to say 'um..steady on guys.' There's quite a bit of bullying between these girls by the looks of it and it would take a brave woman to speak up.

I absolutely understand why it has happened. Imagine, for example, if you were a young woman and you had dreams of being a dancer or singer. You might or might not have the talent, looks, confidence etc to pull it off but if you invested every day into worshipping someone who did then you'd be okay - vicariously speaking. You wouldn't have to worry too much about your own talent because you could pile all your hopes and dreams into someone else's.

Then imagine someone who didn't fit any of these criteria flounced along and - pretty much without effort - pinched your icon's 'rightful' crown.

Would you be thinking 'wow... the book-lovers on twitter are an organised and motivated bunch. They seem to be of a diverse cultural and generational demographic and yet they all pull together to make things happen. They are inventive enough to create a temporary figurehead to subvert an outdated stereotype and promote better library funding in one deft move' or would you think.. 'who the f*** is that Randomer'?

Don't be cross with them. Be sad for them.

Alissa  – (3 August 2009 at 17:19)  

Your story is inspiring for anyone facing a challenge. I hope that your success continues both with Ms. Twitter and with your writing career.

Sandra Leigh  – (3 August 2009 at 17:44)  

So, this is what happened. I had a bad night. I actually had a nightmare, my first in a long time. When I woke up this morning, I turned on my computer and went to the contest. At first glance (well, at first long, hard stare), it appeared that while I was sleeping, an army of Saturdays fans had been voting their little fingers off, so your 1000-vote lead had evaporated. In a panic, I went to Facebook and cried Help! Help! Vote for Rebecca! Then I looked again. Your lead was 1,087. I'll be glad when this is well and truly over. I can't stand the stress. ;>)

Rebecca Woodhead  – (3 August 2009 at 19:12)  

Sandra - oh goodness. You poor love. I think we'll all be glad when this is over. As the day has progressed - and I've received new attacks - I've thought how wonderful it would be not to go through to the next contest. Another month of this? No! :)

Rebecca Woodhead  – (3 August 2009 at 19:13)  

So many lovely comments. I'm reading them all and even if I don't have a chance to reply to each one please know how grateful I am to read all your words :)

J.T. Oldfield  – (4 August 2009 at 03:08)  

I think that you have made the point that Ashton Kutcher was *trying* to make.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (13 August 2013 at 04:04)  

Wow. Hello me of 4 years ago. You rocked for doing this. You rocked even more for not letting on how much physical pain you were in or how financially screwed you were. I still agree with you. The pen is mightier than the pin-up. 4 years and 10 days later, you are published. You did it yourself, and you hit #1 on Amazon. Hit bestseller lists in 6 countries. Beat everyone from Jilly Cooper to Jackie Collins to Shakespeare in various lists.

You became a magazine columnist ... for two magazines. You got bored with trying to keep your writerly self and entrepreneurial self separate so you're now an authorpreneur. That magazine you're reading at the time of writing this blog - Writing Magazine - the one that keeps you alive from month to month ... you write for that every month.

You won Ms Twitter by the way. The Saturdays forgave you. The people behind the Orange Prize interviewed you because of it. You also beat JK Rowling in another contest on Twitter, and Neil Gaiman voted for you in that one. Twitter Grader, Klout, and all the others gave you various titles and put you on various lists. Google made a blog of yours a Blog of Note. They also celebrity verified you on YouTube and a new network called Google Plus.

At the time of writing this comment, you've just made over $20,000 in 95 days. You did it on the internet. Oh, and you just became the Editor-in-Chief of a magazine. Nicely played, Randomer. Word nerds for the win! :)

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