Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Frequently Asked Question 3: Signatures

Would you mind signing cards for me?  Or a variant thereof being: how much do you charge to sign cards?

The answer to the first question is no.  If I’m at an event or convention, I’ll happily sign your cards.  I don’t mind doing it at all.  However, what can be an issue is when folks give me stacks of cards several inches thick.  In these cases, depending on whether there’s a line to talk to me, I may be forced to decline or will ask that the cards be left with me to sign at my leisure.  I just don’t like forcing someone to wait to have one card signed because I’m busy signing 200 for someone else.

Other artists I know will refuse a tall stack of cards outright.  I don’t blame them — my hand cramped so severely at GenCon this year that I had to leave my table for an hour to get some ibuprofen and rest.  At this time, however, I choose to sign as many things as I can.  That’s why I’m at the event in question.

I’m also happy to sign cards sent to me through the mail.  I ask only 2 things.  First, I ask that a self-addressed, stamped envelope be included.  Second, I ask that you email me before sending the cards.  Catch that?  I said “before.”  Why?  Simple: I travel a lot.  While traveling, cards don’t get signed and people are left waiting.  I don’t want folks to have to wait, so if contacted beforehand, I can tell folks to hold off due to travel.  The other problem with travel is that my mail piles up.  This wouldn’t be a big deal if I had a door with a mail slot, or a big old mailbox.  But, as things are now, I live in an apartment building and I have a mailbox that makes a shoebox seem like a spacious mansion complete with indoor pool and 10-car garage.  One weekend’s worth of mail could fill the box and my mailman isn’t bashful about cramming stuff in there.  The last thing I need is to have someone’s cards get bent in half because my mailman decided to ram home my mailbox’s contents with a rolled up copy of the latest Vogue.  (My wife’s subscription — I swear).

I think the above are minor requests, personally.  Especially because — to answer the question’s variant — I don’t charge to sign things.  Signatures are free.  Pretty straightforward, I think.  Now, there are others who have a tip jar at their table.  This is something else I understand.  Pens cost money and with few exceptions, we sign with our own pens.  It’s nice to have the money to replace said pens when they run dry, so we can keep signing.  Personally, I don’t have a tip jar.  If people feel compelled to give me money for signing their cards or books or playmats, I’m happy to take it.  It’s always nice to receive a tip.  I just don’t feel the need to have the jar there.

Truth be told, I get a real kick out of giving autographs.  It’s never gotten old to me.  I remember being a kid, waiting in line to have comic artists sign my comic books, never dreaming that I would one day be the guy behind a table doing the same thing.  Fans are a big part of what I do, and taking the time to sign one or two things is the least I can do for all the love I’ve gotten from them.  So, my pen is ever at the ready.


  1. ha, good faq. I've seen in the past some autograph lines have a rule of x number of pieces, and if you want more you're free to go back and stand in line again. I think it's a good solution to the dilemma of too many magic cards while people are waiting

  2. You know, how I deal with the big stacks varies wildly depending on the circumstances. If there's a line, I'll ask if the person is willing to leave their stack with me and I'll sign what I can, when I can. If that's not an option, I'll ask them to cut the stack. I know folks who will ask folks to cut their tall stacks even when there is no line. To each his/her own. The way I see it, I'd just as soon get that person's entire stack done right then and there rather than have them revisit me every five minutes. But that's just my take on things.



I welcome all comments, questions, and discussion so long as you keep it civil.