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Sports Agent Doing Your 1st Autograph Signing? - Here's What You Need to Know

June 01, 2017 4 min read

Sports Agent Doing Your 1st Autograph Signing?  - Here's What You Need to Know

So you are a brand new sports memorabilia agent and thinking about doing an autograph signing with your newest client.  What do you need to do?  What are some things you should be thinking about?  Here is a quick checklist to help.

#1 - Find a company to pay your athlete for their autograph.  Call up local sports memorabilia stores or even big box stores to check for interest in your client.  At this point you are just feeling out interest, so no need to have a firm date or price in mind.  One thing to ask is if they would be interested in a public or private autograph signing.  Public meaning the athlete does a meet and greet with fans and signs autographs.  Private meaning the athlete just signs autographs for the company, not open to the public.

#2 - Great, you've found a company interested in working with your client!  What do you do next?  After determining if a private or a public signing, next thing is to pick out a date.  Usually, weekend signings work best since that is when most people are off work, but occasionally a mid-week signing does well if timed with another event.  For example, a football athlete signing during a Monday Night Football game (of course when team is not playing). 

#3 - Pricing.  Working out a price is arguably the toughest part of the job for a new agent and athlete.  The biggest determining factor is of course who the athlete is.  Tom Brady demands more of a price than a 5th round NFL draft pick.  But since 5th round draft picks are more common than a Tom Brady, let's focus on that.  Other factors include if private or public and how many pieces are being signed.

So let's say the company wants to do a public autograph signing with your athlete.  They think an hour long signing to the public is a good time frame.  They also want the athlete to sign items for them before the signing for an hour (items they will sell in their store after the signing).  So the athlete will be signing for a total of 2 hours.  What do you charge the company?  Usually, here is where I open the conversation up between the athlete and agent and figure out a price that will sell to the public.  Let's say $50 for any autograph is what the public will pay.  I would ask for at least $20 per autograph for the athlete to be paid.  Since it is a public signing, more work is required of the athlete than a typical private deal.  Something to keep in mind is the company will have additional expenses such as advertising the event, buying the raw goods to be signed, paying staff, etc...  So a fair deal needs to be in place for both parties, typically in favor of the company as they are the one taking majority of the risk.

One other item to price out are inscriptions.  Phrases the athlete writes such as "To Mike" or "Go Cubs."  Stuff like that.  These are usually much cheaper than the autograph.   For a guy being paid $20 per autograph, I would suggest $5 per inscription. 

You will also need to determine the number of autographs to be signed.  For a 2 hour period, I would say an athlete can sign between 200-300 autographs. 

#4 - OK, so a date has been picked and pricing agreed to.  What's next?  GET A CONTRACT!  I cannot stress this enough.  A legit contract needs to be in place outlining everything you and the company have agreed to.  Things to consider putting in the contract besides the above info.  When will the athlete be paid?  Typically, I would say day of in full prior to the event.  What if the company cancels?  Releasing the athlete from any liability the day of the event.  For example, someone gets hurt at the event, they cannot sue the athlete.  100% you want a professional lawyer to write this up.  You can just keep the contract as your standard agreement for future autograph signings.  You would just change the company and athlete name, pricing, date, etc.. but the legalities of it would remain the same. 

The company may have an agreement for you to sign as well (and should).  Be sure to have a lawyer read over it to make sure all is good.  Have athlete sign and send back.

#5 - Day of event.  Make sure athlete is paid.  A pep talk with athlete might be a good idea.  Run through what's going to happen, remind them to be friendly with fans, and complete their contract as it is written.  Word spreads quickly if an athlete is easy or not to work with so best to be 100%.

Next, you will want to have some way to count the number of autographs and inscriptions the athlete signs.  Either a spreadsheet or a ticket system.  Some way of comparing what you have counted with what the company has counted.  Keep in mind, in a busy autograph signing, occasionally the count may be off by a number or 2, but should be fairly close.  This would also be a good time to take some social media pictures/videos for marketing purposes.  Maybe even go Facebook live.  Interacting with fans who couldn't make the event is always a positive. 

Authenticating the autographs is something to consider. Often, the company will bring in a 3rd party authentication company such as JSA, Beckett, or PSA/DNA to do so.  Or, the company will authenticate the autographs themselves with their authentication hologram.


If you have any questions on anything above or need help in any of the areas such as finding companies to host your athletes, please let me know. 


Powers Sports Memorabilia was started by me, Matt Powers as a way for sports autograph and celebrity memorabilia enthusiasts and collectors to have a high-quality product available at affordable pricing.  You deal directly with me when ordering anything from my company, so I ensure you get the best quality service and personal care you deserve.  Let me be YOUR sports memorabiliaguy!


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