If you have ever wanted to be killed off by Stephen King, "portrayed in a good light" by John Grisham, or be immortalized as an utterance by little Sunny Baudelaire in the next Lemony Snicket novel, eBay's (NASDAQ:EBAY) got a collection of auctions for you. Through Sept. 26, the non-profit First Amendment Project is staging celebrity novelist auctions on eBay to raise money for the cause of free speech.

Offering character or storefront naming rights in the upcoming novels of 16 popular authors like Amy Tan and Nora Roberts, the charity group is looking to raise at least $50,000. With the first batch of auctions receiving early four-figure bids, the goal shouldn't be a problem. However, one can only imagine that eBay, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection, has a goal as well.

For years, eBay has made headlines as a haven for offbeat, if not suspect, auctions. It's a bit of a shame, really; for every million or so transactions that lead to fulfilling finishes, the media tends to jump all over grilled cheese sandwiches bearing the likeness of the Virgin Mary or Nazi paraphernalia that snuck past eBay's otherwise vigilant eye.

It's why Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) did its fledgling auction service no favors back in February by deciding to woo a celebrated forehead-tattoo auctioneer and feature his next monthly offering. I can see why Overstock, an active recommendation in our Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service, was looking to draw attention to its relatively new auction site. It's all about the O-pportunity! But if you want to establish your platform as a home for serious business, you need to take yourself seriously.

eBay has enough to worry about as it is. Whether it's fretting about the possibility that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will launch a PayPal clone or wondering what Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) is working on in China, it can never lose sight of its flawless two-step approach of attracting lucrative bidders and reasonable auctioneers.

That doesn't mean that eBay should off the feel-good charitable auctions that err on the side of being aloof, such as this month's authorial assortment. It needs that positive ammo to offset the occasional vicious tongue-lashing; for example, Bob Geldof called eBay "despicable" and an "electronic pimp" in June for facilitating the resale of freely distributed Live 8 concert tickets. The auction king must simply make sure that it can land some favorable PR without letting publicity stunts consume its focus.

For eBay, that would mean placing a bid for a benevolent spot in Grisham's novel -- not a toe tag in King's next creepy epic.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz knows how to get his name in a story. It's called a byline. He does not own shares in any of the stocks mentioned in this story. The Fo ol has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.