Postcard from the Edge of Literature

So… the thought process goes: if J.K. Rowling can knock out a few pages and make a mint, it can’t be that difficult to write an international best-seller. And so the concept for a roller-coaster plot of intrigue and suspense was born. It took literally days to carefully outline the twist and turns of the narrative – the meticulous interplay of the chapters and to balance current reality with the virtual reality of the future.

We decided to pitch the book at the appropriate level and therefore approached the makers of the “for Dummies” series, which covers just about every topic you can think of (there are over 900 titles and over 150 million books in print). Looking at the alphabetical list of Dummies topics, they start somewhere around Acne for Dummies and go on through Arthritis For Dummies, Breastfeeding for Dummies, Jakarta Struts (what ever they are) for Dummies, Nanotechnology for Dummies, Women in the Bible for Dummies and ends somewhere with Yoga for Dummies (although I imagine there will be a “Zygotes for Dummies” coming soon).

But anyway, with the direction fixed, the writing began. Being part of the “for Dummies” series, you have to adhere to a certain number of rules (about 37.8 million at the last count) but for that you get a very nice editor who helps you write and select appropriate illustrations that fit in to the “Dummies Style”. This was interesting, as much of the information had to be amassed from interviews with people who wrote and talked in the “Advanced Astrophysics Style”. However, we ploughed on – at times seriously doubting if the project would be finished on time. Amazingly enough, it did (after moving the deadlines a couple of times) and the book was born: mySAP ERP for Dummies.

The next question is where to launch the book – Paris, New York, Hogsmead? All were carefully considered but due to budget constraints were rejected along with Antarctica, Auckland, Madagascar and Machu Picchu (funnily enough places I have yet to visit, no idea how they got on the list.) No, all the exotic destinations were waived in lieu of the next big gathering of the SAP community – the SAP TechEd Conference in Vienna. Why not launch it there and being so close, we could take advantage of the press hype and do some book signings?

The books arrived in the nick of time, they were literally taken hot off press in the USA and air-freighted to Vienna. They were plugged heavily in the opening presentation, and thus the interest was great – and we soon had literally hundreds of people queuing for a copy. A book signing is no easy organizational feat. A large number of helpers are needed to get the books on time, organize the event, keep the signature production-line rolling, direct the foot traffic, answer questions and pacify the punters who were too late to receive one of the 1,000 books we signed. Our behind the scenes people were excellent, and everything ran without a hitch.

Banal chit-chat thus ensues with each signing, the most common question as “does your hand ache yet?” (yes) or “are you the next J.K. Rowling of SAP?” (yes). Unfortunately all royalties go to SAP, so I will not be buying a huge castle in Scotland, but all I can say is, watch out Joanne, there is a new kid on the block!

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