I feel like a schmuck when I ask for an autograph…

So, I have this Facebook friend…  Is that really a friend these days???  Sometimes I feel closer to my Facebook friends than I do my real (in person) friends…  The “friend” is Charles Lippincott.  Charles was the original marketing director for the Star Wars Corporation back in 1976, the year the first book was released and before the film was released.  Charles was the man who represented 20th Century Fox and LucasFilm when it came to licensing and rights in the very beginning of what has become the true Empire ($$$) in Star Wars Land.

You can read all about Charlie online, but I really wanted to discuss something that he said in a recent post on Facebook.  For quite a long while, Charlie was spearheading this campaign to get a recreation of sorts set-up at Mid-America Con.  You see, Mid-America Con (MAC) was one of the original publicity exhibitions held by Charlie and The Star Wars Corporation back in 1976.  He was planning his exhibits, inviting guests and discussing the details with his “friends” on Facebook.  It was amazing to be able to peek in at the process of mounting the 40th Anniversary Star Wars Exhibition at MAC II!!!

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I mean come on, this is one of the guys who worked with Alan Dean Foster, Ralph McQuarrie, George Lucas, Judy Del Rey, Stan Lee and so on before any of us really knew what was about to hit us. 

All thanks to Facebook…

Charlie made the point that this convention is really a Science Fiction WRITERS Convention and not a comic-con or the like.  For this reason, he asked that only people who pay for an autograph expect to get one.  They limited the autographs to 50 each at the convention from him, Gary Kurtz (original Producer of Star Wars) and Alan Dean Foster (the author of Star Wars). Now, this isn’t a lot of autographs, and he, along with everyone else knows it. He didn’t want his time that weekend eaten up by signing his name on tons of items all around the convention, at the hotel, in the car, on the street, in the café etc…  He wanted to genuinely be able to utilize his time to catch up with his “in person” friends.

If you are doing all the work of putting together a show, I say that you get to do what the hell you want!   

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I ASK FOR AUTOGRAPHS.  I HAVE ASKED FOR A LOT OF AUTOGRAPHS OVER THE YEARS.  As a bookseller and a collector, it comes with the territory.  That said, I hate feeling like a schmuck when I ask for an autograph at a show, a bookstore or via the mail.  Why can’t all authors start charging for autographs???  We should have literary autograph shows!  Just like the National Sports Conventions that you see where Dan Marino is sitting next to Bo Jackson who is sitting next to Mike Piazza…  These guys, like a hundred of them sometimes, all set-up at collector shows to sell their autographs, photographs, books etc…  They are making money, but they are also satisfying the demand for a few moments of their time from adoring fans. 

BOOKS HAVE ADORING FANS.  WRITERS HAVE ADORING FANS.  AM I BEING A SCHMUCK TO SUGGEST THAT WE HAVE SHOWS TO START SATISFYING THE DEMAND???

Charlie, good luck!  Don’t feel bad for charging for an autograph.  I would do it if anyone cared enough about mine to ask.  Seems like a no-brainer.  Also seems like it would make me feel better about getting the autograph.  It’s an exchange of valuable goods and not somebody feeling embarrassed to ask for something when they are giving nothing in return…

Mike Cotter,

The Transforming World of Collectible

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