Autograph Project a Runaway Success ALREADY

I have gotten so many wonderful, kindhearted response to my autograph requests this week ALONE that I can barely keep up!
First, came this response, on my Wannabe flyer as requested, from the beloved Professor from Gilligan’s Island – Russell Johnson. He wrote this on the flyer “Dear Linda – I am a Wannabe – always have been – so I try to be – and one becomes – a busy bee. Love from the Professor, Russell Johnson.”

Seriously, could this guy be any nicer? This is exactly the kind of thing that I was hoping for. I want to be able to flip through my autograph binder and read inspiring messages from amazing people like him, just when I need it the most.

On the very SAME day, I got an amazing glossy photo from Jerry Lewis (seriously, I have GOT to get me a scanner!! I will accept donations on this…). He wrote on it: “To Linda: Wannabes NEVER give up! Jerry Lewis 2010.”

Too cool.

Believe it or not, on that SAME day (Monday, July 12, to be exact) I received a pre-printed autograph on a lovely picture of Morgan Freeman. Though I’m always hoping for real autograph, I consider this a “success”. It is fun mail, after all, and that was the idea in the first place. Somebody – an assistant most likely – sent my Wannabe flyer back, too. Someone wrote at the top: “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Ummmm…what? There are an awful lot of inspirational quotes from The Shawshank Redemption. This is not one of those quotes…It sounded more like a “ you really SHOULD give up” kind of message.

Whatever. It made me laugh and it came with a photo of Morgan Freeman. It’s going in the binder.

The SAME day, I received a really nice note signed by George Lucas…’s secretary. It was really sweet, thanked me for my fan letter, said they said they regretted that he could not sign due to so many requests, but here, have this nice free 8X10 photo of George Lucas next to a camera looking all director-y.

Cool. It’s mail. It was really nice. Totally going in the binder.

A few days later, I received a black and white 8X10 photo signed by Carl Reiner. Keep in mind, I only sent out my cheap Wannabe paper. I can’t believe all this cool stuff I am getting!!! Half these people send back my own SASE so I can use it again to harass another celebrity, too!

You know who did send back my Wannabe flyer? Jean Stapleton, aka, Edith Bunker. She didn’t tell me to “stifle” either. She wrote “Don’t Give Up” and signed her name. The handwriting was really very shaky, and I can’t tell you how touched I am that she still signs autographs. You can tell by the writing that it was quite an effort. So sweet of her!!!

Next up, (LISTEN UP, RON HOWARD!!!!!) was Henry Winkler. He sent me a card with his name embossed at the top. He wrote “Dear Linda with the great sense of humor, Hope you are enjoying your summer. It makes me happy that you like what I am doing with my life…Hope you are watching Royal Pains on USA. Keep getting up and move forward. That is my key to life. It got me here (illegible) from a Wannabe, too. Henry Winkler.

WOW. We always knew The Fonz was cool.

Okay, at this point, it probably sounds like I making this stuff up. No way did she get all this stuff from all these famous folks (buy me a scanner already, people, and I’ll prove it!)

Stay tuned. You won’t even BELIEVE what I got in the mail today. I’m looking right at it and I still can’t believe it.

The Great Wannabe Autograph Project

I would rather get a rejection letter than nothing at all. For the most part. Most rejections aren’t the “I read your novel/screenplay. I hate it” type. They are more like “The idea doesn’t interest me so I’m not gonna read it in the first place” or something even simpler, like “our development slate is full” or “we don’t take unsolicited material”. No big deal.

I send out a lot of query letters to producers, agents, publishers, editors, etc. These letters take an awful lot of time, effort, and expense, so it can be frustrating to be completely ignored. Besides, it’s fun getting mail! Even a rejection. To me, a letter from a producer is like a scratch-off lottery ticket. You don’t know what you got until you look at it. It can be fun and exciting, even if you ultimately lose.

An empty mailbox is just straight disappointment. NO fun at all. And really annoying when you send them a preprinted, stamped rejection postcard where all they have to do check off NO and toss it back in the box. The idea of all that postage just going into the trash is irritating.

Right now I’m in between query letters. I sent out all the queries I could for several scripts (one of which is under option right now so I can’t query for it anymore anyway – wahoo!) and I am in the middle of writing another script, which won’t reach the query letter stage for a while now. I still want some fun mail – something to look forward to!

SO. I got the idea to send out a copy of my Wannabe Pride flyer – (just a little ad about the site I put together to post different places, send to college career centers, etc) – to famous people to try to get some cool autographs. I figure I have a decent shot at getting some of them returned to me signed. It’s not like a glossy 8×10 photo of a celebrity that I could ultimately sell and profit from. The Wannabe flyer only means something to me, so maybe they will realize my sincerity and autograph it. Cool celebs like Tom Hanks might actually sign it and send it back – even if it takes months or even years.

So far I’ve sent out about 30-40 handwritten letters with a copy of my Wannabe flyer asking people to give me their autograph and an inspirational “Don’t Give Up” kind of message on my flyer. Think it will work? Who knows?! But it gives me something to be excited about and to check the mail for every day. So far, I’ve sent out letters to various people, like screenwriter Callie Khouri, Ryan Reynolds and Shia LaBeouf (two of my favorite actors!!), Carl Reiner, Julie Andrews, Oliver Stone, the four hysterical guys from the Big Bang Theory, all the current members of SNL, and amazing soundtrack composers like Bill Conti, Alan Silverstri, and Thomas Newman.

I have included a SASE with each letter, of course, along with a warning sticker on the outside of the envelope (I also do this with my query letters to Hollywood, and let me tell you, it WORKS. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from producers for succeeding in making my letter stand out from all the other Wannabes). The label for my fan letters says WARNING: Letter from a Wannabe. Contents: Sappy Letter and Autograph Request. Does not contain nuts, dairy, or a request to read my screenplay.

It’s been just under a month since the first letters went out. Stay tuned to find out if my little project works!