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Old 07-28-2010, 02:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How TTM Works – Your One Stop for Getting Started

I’ve been getting a lot of questions on starting a TTM, and thought making a sticky thread would be a great solution. I’ve compiled the questions I’ve received into a Q&A thread to help anyone with TTM questions out. If there are more questions to add, or if anyone has suggestions to add (or disagree with the answers I’ve given) to the answers please either PM me or post in here and I’ll add it to the original post.

Q: What is TTM stand for?

A: TTM stands for “through the mail,” and we are talking about writing to celebrities/athletes/entertainers/etc and asking for an autograph in return.

Q: How does it work?

A: The way I do TTM is I include a small letter (sometimes even just a 3”x5” index card) and I write a VERY SHORT note explaining how much I appreciate whatever it is they do, and I request an autograph. Remember they are famous, and extra time is hard to come by. The shorter the letter is; the better. I also include (2) trading cards if it’s sports related (one for me, and one for my son) or 4x6 photos that can fit into a standard envelope to save on shipping. I also include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) which is just an envelope addressed from: you, to: you. I always include my address in the upper left hand corner in case there is insufficient postage or there is a problem with the address in the middle of the envelope. Some athletes will send extra items along with the ones you’ve requested (ie Ray Berry will send 2-3 extra items). It basically doubles my chances of ensuring that if the letter gets mailed back I will receive it.

Q: Can I have a sample letter?

A:
Dear _______
I am a huge fan of yours and I was hoping you could sign the card/photo I included. I know you are very busy with other requests so I thank you for taking the opportunity out of your day to consider my request.

Have a nice day,



Q: How much does it cost?

A: Assuming you send a letter, SASE, and a couple trading cards/photos, you can do it all for one stamp on a normal envelope. So basically it’ll cost you one stamp to get to the celebrity, and one to get back.

Q: Do you include a smaller envelope for the SASE, or fold a regular sized envelope?

A:Most say to use a smaller sized envelope. I don't know why they suggest this though. I fold a regular sized envelope into thirds and stick it in. Reason being, as I eluded to earlier some celebrities send photos/HOF plaques/etc of their own for you. If you have a smaller sized envelope, a 4x6 won't fit and you won't get the "free" extras they would normally send. It doesn't cost anymore (except a few cents for the envelopes) to send, so do it!!

Q: What is your success rate?

A: Assuming you mean a “success” as an authentic autograph, I’d say between 30-40%. If you include preprints/autopens it’s closer to 50%. It all depends on who you are trying to send to. If you are hoping for Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, etc. you are SOL. These threads have great information on the successes people have had, and do a good job identifying preprints to help minimize the “failures.” Each person who does TTM has started a thread, and they all do a great job of answering question/sharing information if you need help. Most also keep a running tab of successes on the original post of their thread.

Q: If someone ghost signs or autopens, what is it?

A: Not all TTM successes are real signatures by the celebrity. Some have a secretary do it (ghostsigned), some have a ink pad and stamp their signature on the auto (stamp), and some have a machine sign an item for them (autopen). There are also preprints that celebritys send where the picture is printed with a signature already on the picture and is not done by the celebrity. If you follow the right boards and watch closely, they are easy to spot and you'll know whether or not to waste your stamps if you are only interested in an authentic signature.
Q: Where do you obtain your addresses?

A: There are a lot of places to obtain your addresses from. If you have a couple you are looking for, most of the individuals doing TTM will be happy to share via PM. These are the most popular places I’ve found:

For Sports I use Harvey’s list. It’s highly regarded as the best in the business, and provides more information and updates than the websites (again, that’s my personal preference).

Sports Address Lists

For celebrities/entertainers/sports stars/singers/basically everyone else, I use startiger. You have to pay, but it’s worth the money.

Tested Celebrity Addresses - Collect Autographs - Manage Your Collection at StarTiger

To track successes, I use the following website outside of our own Blowout:

SportsCollectors.Net - Sports Autograph Resource and Community (Free – Can view 14 days worth)



Q: Some of the cards I send are glossy and the autographs don’t stick well. Is there a solution to this problem?

A: I’ve found using a magic eraser is the best, easiest and most cost effective way to take the glossy finish off the card. The card obtains its original look, but the signature sticks great. I’m not sure if it would hurt the card for grading purposes as I’m not into TTM for grading (unless I’m grading the signature, not the card). If you rub baby powder on the card it will also help, but is messy and isn’t as effective as the magic eraser IMHO.

Q: Do you include your own pen?

A: I would not recommend sending your own pen unless there is a special item you want signed with a specific marker. For instance if you send an 8x10 photo that is dark and you want to make sure it’s signed in silver so you can see it, send a silver sharpie. Or sending in a baseball, most prefer a blue signature and have a pen of choice. The celebrities/athletes all have markers at their disposal, and 99% are good about using appropriate markets. IMO you are just wasting time/money/additional postage in sending the markers with the items.

Q: There are some athlete's that want a donation for their charity... do you make the check out to their charity or to them?

A: I guess the easiest answer is, it depends. Some athletes have a charity/foundation they sponsor and want the check made out to them. That's good for you to, because you can get a tax write off (just don't tell anyone you received anything in return). Other celebrities want the check made out to them, as it's a way to supplement their own income. When in doubt, if you don't know they charity/cause; make it out to the celebrity themselves.
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Last edited by raiderguy10; 11-24-2010 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i've asked this question over on SCN a few times and have never been able to get a straight answer -

there are some athlete's that want a donation for their charity... do you make the check out to their charity or to them? i think one of the old school packers QB's whose name escapes me had a charity requirement.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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thanks captain I'll add it here and in the OP. I guess the easiest answer is, it depends. Some athletes have a charity/foundation they sponsor and want the check made out to them. That's good for you to, because you can get a tax write off (just don't tell anyone you received anything in return). Other celebrities want the check made out to them, as it's a way to supplement their own income. When in doubt, if you don't know they charity/cause; make it out to the celebrity themselves.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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cool thanks.

i got lazy and didn't pay the 15 bucks over there.. but is there still a ghost signer list going around?
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I haven't seen an official list in quite some time. If there is one, I'm not aware. I think it changes also from time to time. Some athletes ghost sign at certain times, and sign for real others (ie Terry Bradshaw and Emmitt Smith - some are real some are ghost).
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would agree, I make it out to the athlete. I include on the "notes" section of my check that its a donation for whatever foundation. I love sending to the Negro League players and a lot of them are now requesting money to help with growing medical bills... I dont even bat an eye at helping them out as I know most of them are poor...

I get this questions a lot: Give me an example of a letter to send the athlete.

here is what all of my requests read for the most part:
Dear _______
I am a huge fan of yours and I was hoping you could sign the card/photo I included. I know you are very busy with other requests so I thank you for taking the time out of your day to consider my request.

Have a nice day,

Dan

super short


Also, my success rate is in the 90% range if you dont count items unreturned. If you count those I am probably around 20-25% success. As a TTM collector people have to understand that they might have to send a few times in order to get that one request they want really bad. I only send to celebs that have high success rates, and it has worked out fairly well so far.

GREAT JOB RAIDERGUY10, this will save a lot of us some major time answering questions.... thanks again!

HUGE TIP FOR BASEBALL TTM COLLECTORS
The absolute best time to send TTMs to baseball players is during spring training to the athletes spring training facility. I have already started filling out my requests for next spring training and I am anticipating 400-500 requests being sent out. I received a ton of successes from ST last year, and I dont want to pass it up this year.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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thanks dan. I added your example letter to the OP. I would agree that the success rate is closer to 30 than 40% for me, but it depends who you shoot for.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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dan how much are you sending to them on avg? dollar wise?
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I just found out that 4x6's LITERALLY barely fit into a regular envelope, but they do. Nice to know I don't have to spend money on manilla envelopes.
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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yes they do, and it keeps them from moving a lot
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:04 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raiderguy10 View Post
yes they do, and it keeps them from moving a lot
I originally thought about getting 5x7's because a few of my pics didn't seem like they had enough autograph room at 4x6 but everyone else has made it work so I will too.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zacky1053 View Post
I originally thought about getting 5x7's because a few of my pics didn't seem like they had enough autograph room at 4x6 but everyone else has made it work so I will too.
I guess I haven't had that problem. I got all 4 Pawn Stars on a 4x6, and it looks great. If I got for more than 4, I just make it an 8x10....
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raiderguy10 View Post
I guess I haven't had that problem. I got all 4 Pawn Stars on a 4x6, and it looks great. If I got for more than 4, I just make it an 8x10....
Well maybe my main problem is that I'm convinced the autograph needs to be on an "open space" in the photo to look good. Probably not true.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zacky1053 View Post
Well maybe my main problem is that I'm convinced the autograph needs to be on an "open space" in the photo to look good. Probably not true.

I guess it depends on the photo. If it's a dark area, i'd hope they'd sign with a silver/gold marker so you could see it.
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Old 08-03-2010, 03:12 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The $$$ amount varies depending on the athlete and what thy request. I've had Wade Boggs sign for $5 and got returns from Willie Mays that asked for $200+. It is a crapshoot really.
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Old 10-07-2010, 01:16 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I am wanting to send to Ken Dryden in Toronto....

How do I go about getting Canadian Postage for my SASE?

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Old 10-07-2010, 01:36 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garpike View Post
I am wanting to send to Ken Dryden in Toronto....

How do I go about getting Canadian Postage for my SASE?


Maybe prepurchase Candian Stamps on ebay, or from a forum member?
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:06 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Maybe prepurchase Candian Stamps on ebay, or from a forum member?
Going to have to stop the post office and get some advice.
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:25 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Does anyone get Delivery Confirmation on their package when they send it off to someone? Hope it doesn't look cheesy to the receiver I just have a couple I have a little more vested interest in. Also, I'm assuming there's no way you can pre-pay for DC coming back without the receiver having to do something?
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Old 11-24-2010, 11:41 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Possibily add a section on ghost signers? Ive got a good idea what that means but i dont know for sure.

EDIT: Lol apparently i cant read, please disregard.
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Old 11-24-2010, 11:46 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Possibily add a section on ghost signers? Ive got a good idea what that means but i dont know for sure.
Question added. Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2011, 12:51 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Yo, should I include a penny sleeve or toploader or something to help protect the card?
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:23 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I'm looking to send some 8x10s out to get signed, but I'm not sure how Togo about doing so, any ideas?
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:55 AM   #24 (permalink)
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what do you mean you're not sure how to go about doing so? Not trying to be a jerk, just a really broad question.

1. Obtain 8x10 through local photo store aka walmart-walgreens etc- using google images, or some other source for the picture.
2. Put in envelope along with sase.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:51 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Yo, should I include a penny sleeve or toploader or something to help protect the card?
No because sometimes the person you send it to will sign the sleeve instead of the card
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