HAVE YOU been secretly following the career of an obscure soap star, watching as he rose through the ranks on "Days of Our Lives," only to get killed off in a freak jai alai accident and then resurface on "General Hospital" as a wealthy British breeder of champion show dogs? Do you know every song by a moderately successful local country band that, you believe, needs just a little support and publicity to snare a record deal and be on its way to international stardom and its own line of poseable action figures?

If so, then you might want to start your own fan club. But what do you do first? Well, first of all you of course need to find a celebrity, or, in fan club parlance, an "honorary." But it can't be just any celebrity.

"It would be necessary to really have a deep admiration for the celebrity for the club to really be a success," says Blanche Trinajstick, president of the National Association of Fan Clubs in Pueblo, Colo. And, actually, you may want to find a celebrity who's not too celebrated. While it may be easier to form a fan club for a well-known celebrity, chances are someone has beat you to it.

"Then you would have to find out if the celebrity would approve your club, because you're supposed to have approval. That makes your fan club 'official,' " says Trinajstick.

To get approval you need to get permission, which means contacting your potential celebrity (in care of a movie studio, television network or record label) and getting a signed piece of paper with the words "I hereby authorize {your name here} to start a fan club" on it somewhere.

"Some fans, if they try to contact a celebrity and get no response, they presume to take that silence as yes and will go ahead and form a club, but that's not too wise," says Trinajstick, raising the specter of legal action. (Besides, without celebrity approval you won't be able to call up the honorary or his or her agent to get the latest poop and "about all you can print is what somebody tells you or what you read . . . It's not always true.")

Before you beat the bushes in search of fellow devotees, you need to have your membership packets organized. That means, at a minimum, printing up some membership cards, obtaining 8x10 glossies of your honorary (signed, if possible) and putting together a biography of the celebrity.

This costs money so you'll want to set your dues high enough that you don't go too deep into the red -- Trinajstick suggests dues of around $10 a year for a membership packet and four to six newsletters. You might want to see if the honorary can kick in a few bucks. Most are more than willing to help. But, she says, "Once in a while some are adamant about not helping. They don't want to be involved. It seems a little funny, it's like saying 'Support me but don't bother me.' "

How does your club blossom and grow? "In every field of entertainment there are magazines that list fan clubs free of charge," says Trinajstick. "Any fan that belongs to a fan club is a potential member for another fan club."

And that's it. Fairly simple. Of course if it was that simple everybody would have a fan club. Many fan clubs, says Trinajstick fold within a year because the founders don't understand the work involved or set their dues too low or too high. Some go into the hobby with the wrong attitude, believing the club will gain them special access to their honorary.

"A fan club gives you no special privileges with a celebrity," warns Trinajstick. "Some fans join fan clubs thinking they can get front-row seats or get to meet the celebrity. This is not what a fan club is all about."

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FAN CLUBS -- For $3 Blanche Trinajstick will send you "The Fan Club Guide," a homey 36-page introduction to forming and operating a fan club. Trinajstick recounts lessons she's learned in her 30 years in fandom and includes sample membership cards, authorization forms and application blanks. Write the National Association of Fan Clubs, P.O. Box 4559, Pueblo, CO 81003, or call 719/543-6708.