Only a handful of people have bragging rights of having a character in a Stephen King (search) novel named after them.

The horror writer and 16 other renowned authors including Amy Tan (search), John Grisham (search) and Michael Chabon (search) are auctioning through eBay the chance to name a minor character in their soon-to-be-published works. The bids are being taken in three waves this month.

King, whose auction runs from Sept. 8-18, warned that the winning bidder's character in his next novel, "Cell," could get killed off.

Due for release in 2006 or 2007, the novel "is a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the human brain. Like cheap whiskey, it's very nasty and extremely satisfying," he wrote.

For his part, Grisham was one of only a handful of authors promising to portray the top bidder's chosen name "in a good light."

Proceeds will benefit the First Amendment Project, a nonprofit organization that protects and promotes freedom of information and expression.

Author Michael Chabon, a member of the First Amendment Project's board, enlisted his colleagues to rally to the organization's defense. Organizers say they believe it will fetch well over the nonprofit First Amendment Project's goal of $50,000.

David Greene, executive director of the First Amendment Project, said that money raised by the auction will go to support the organization's pro bono work representing clients being sued over free speech, free press and freedom of expression.

Other authors participating in the charity auction on eBay are Dorothy Allison, Dave Eggers, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Andrew Sean Greer, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, ZZ Packer, Chuck Palahniuk, Nora Roberts, Lemony Snicket, Peter Straub and Ayelet Waldman.

The idea of holding a group charity auction came from Neil Gaiman, who recently sold the name of a cruise liner in his upcoming novel, "Anansi Boys," on eBay. Proceeds were donated to another First Amendment defender, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.