I’ve been asked to write about my process for collecting autographs. Here’s what I do: buy some blank 3x5 index cards, 9x12 self-adhesive envelopes, 10x13 self-adhesive envelopes, lightweight posterboard, a bunch of stamps.
First and foremost, I try to write a good letter. My letters are handwritten (although many collectors type their letters and have great success) and are about three paragraphs long. In the first paragraph I tell the celebrity why I like him or her. This is where I try to be as specific--yet brief--as possible. I often mention a favorite movie/TV show that person has been in; in many cases I even explain why I particularly like I certain scene. I do this because I really want to let that person know that I don’t just “admire their work” (a phrase I used a lot when I was first beginning to collect), I really remember their performances and am moved by them!
In the second paragraph, I ask for an autograph, being sure to use “please” somewhere in the request. I also tell them I’ve included an index card they could sign if they don’t have a photo, and that they should use my SASE for their convenience. And in the last paragraph, I thank them for reading my letter, and then offer them my best wishes for the future. When you’ve written the letter, it shouldn’t be more than one page--celebrities get a lot of letters, and the longer your letter is, it is less likely that they will read it.
Once I have written my letter, I cut the posterboard to fit into the 9x12 envelope. I then put the posterboard in the envelope, address the envelope to me (I also write DO NOT BEND on the envelope as well), and put two .32 stamps on it. I also write my address on the place where the return address goes: this way, if I have not included enough postage, the envelope will still come back to me and I'll pay the postage due. Then I put this envelope into the 10x13 envelope along with my letter and an index card. Of course you address the outer envelope to the celebrity. Then it’s ready to go to the post office!
One more thing: I do write to a number of celebrities in England. In that case, instead of putting postage on the inner envelope, I attach two IRCs (International Reply Coupons) to it. The celebrity can exchange these IRCs for postage.
Once you've mailed the request, the main thing you need to remember is be patient! You'll often wait a few months to get a response, and sometimes it can take more than a year. Good luck collecting!