After researching my options, I decided to go with RPGNow for the print copy of Blackmarsh. It will be 8.5 by 11, 16 pages. So the full map will be properly display within. Since I will be using color the maps will (crossing fingers) be a full gray scale. I also setup the PDF sides of things which will be free and working with Brave Halfling to coordinate our releases.
The only downside is that the I have to wait for the print files to be approved from a technical standpoint. A process that takes way longer than Lulu. Then I get to order it and see how it printed and hope that nothing went wrong. Otherwise I get to repeat the whole cycle again.
One thing I did different this time is made sure my files are PDF/X-1a:2001 compliant. This is a standard used by printing houses to ensure that the printed color is really what the color the customer wanted.
Because I did this I am going to set up a b/w versions on lulu and RPGNow to see if it succeeds in avoiding halftoning of my maps. The key element of exporting to a PDF/X-1a:2001 PDF was converting all my images to either a 1 bit b/w format for line art or 32-bit CMYK (not RGB or grayscale) for the images. I hope you find this helpful for your own projects.
We are on track for an April release. And below is the full letter size cover. Click to enlarge.
Mini WIP pictures
1 hour ago