Not Supporting 'THE DEALERS' and the Deceptions Employed to Make Money
“I don’t support dealers. It’s all about the fans.”
Those words are the hollow excuse used to extract more of your dollars. $300 for a photo-op and $300 for a signature at your local comic con? Trust me, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that there aren’t many ‘dealers’ lining up to pay $300 for an autograph. Even fewer are going to pay $300 for a photo-op.
Recently, an 80s icon fortunate enough to land on a smash-hit Disney + show decided to charge well-above market value to sign ‘personal items’ to deter the mystical ‘dealers’. Apparently, normal fans or collectors only collect table 8x10s, and can’t try to get all of their favorites on a full-sized poster or image. Only THE DEALERS collect multis I suppose. The actor finally somewhat changed course after fan backlash, but nevertheless, the attempt was made.
If it was REALLY about the fans and shunning ‘the dealers,’ you’d hold a convention or private signing, limit it to two items per person and price your appearance fee to where you’re making less than $100 per autograph. Do that enough times, or sign for everyone in public enough, no ‘dealer’ is going to want to have your autograph because the market’s been flooded.
Or better yet, if it’s about the money, just say it is. I always seem to recall a quote I read in an article years back about Sean Connery’s point of view on signing autographs:
“I’m not getting paid for it,” Connery barked back. “These b*****s sell my signature on the internet for hundreds of dollars. They’re making a killing off my back!”
It’s sort of refreshing to hear. Even though Sir Sean never did a proper signing (other than bookplates), his point of view is surely shared. And to be honest, I get it. If you deserve to be paid, get paid.
The visage of, “The Dealer”, the unkempt slob living in a literal van down by the river admittedly doesn’t do real collectors any justice. These mutants lurk at premiers and airports, harassing celebs with mountains of 8x10s they plan to flip for $50 apiece while hurling insults and acting like terrible human beings. Most of these people are not collectors.
There are collectors there, hidden amongst the sludge. They’re either trying to help folks like me, or, trying to add to their own collections. It’s hard not to paint everyone with the same brush, but fans are in the pits with the mutants.
Better yet, follow the leads of some of the most fan-friendly celebs in the world.
Two GREAT examples: Christian Bale and J.J. Abrams.
These two titans at the top of their respective games have signed so much that you can find authentic signed items of each on the secondary market for less than $100. I remember getting Christian Bale through-the-mail a few years ago. And J.J. is always signing when he’s out.
Listen, if you charge $300-$400 at a show, your autograph on the open market is worth what you’re asking at a con or a private signing. If Natalie Portman did an autograph signing next month for $100, the retail value of Natalie Portman autographs would be $100.
Bottom line is, as a celebrity you control the value of your autograph.
Let’s cut to the chase: If it’s about the money, say it’s about the money. If you don’t want to do it, just say you don’t want to do it. If it’s about the fans, then sign at a reasonable rate.