First of all, the price. Before embarking on this project, I looked into various photo-book manufacturers. They charge the same for comic strips as for photos. Most of them set a price for an 8 inch by 8 inch/20-page book, and charge more for bigger dimensions, and add (in most cases) $1.00 for each additional page (in the 8 by 10 size). Thus the price for one copy of this book worked out to:
Photobook America: $100
Blurb doesn't charge $1.00 for each additional page over 20, they up the price by about 4 dollars for each additional 20 pages. All of these companies run special deals from time to time, 40% off, or free shipping, but Blurb is still lower, even at full price. And they offer volume discounts starting at 7 copies. Plus, I went to the sites of several of these places and found that Blurb's system was the easiest to work with. It was a no-brainer to go with Blurb.
I ordered a 60-page book to check the quality, which was excellent, then when I had enough strips for 100 pages I ordered again as a proof. Still fine, but I improved the artwork on most of the strips, made some of them funnier, and then ordered 15 copies. A couple for me, a couple as gifts, and a few for those minions who buy everything I publish.
Unfortunately, for some reason that the Blurburati haven't been able to figure out, one of the strips seems to enlarge itself somewhere in the process, so that only half of it fits on the page. The strip is supposed to look like this:
Click to enlarge.
But instead it looks like this:
Blurb is replacing the books for me, and if no one there can figure out why that comic strip keeps screwing up, I'll replace it with another before they print. Meanwhile, I have 15 copies of a book that I would normally sell for over $35 just to break even, and I see a golden opportunity. If I can get $10 a copy for these books (+ shipping), I'll recoup the money I spent on proofs, and I can cut the price I charge for the perfect copies when they arrive. And those of you who would never consider spending $38 on a book of comic strips, which is most of you, might be tempted to get it, if only to cut out your favorites and stick them on the door to your office or the wall behind your writing desk the way computer professionals and cubicle workers do with Dilbert cartoons. These are comic strips that only you, as writers, can truly appreciate. It's sort of like if you find Marmaduke funny, it can only be because you own a giant dog.
I could have used an exacto knife to remove the offending page; that would also remove more than the one offending cartoon, but if I managed to cut it close enough, no one would have known the difference. Or I could have ignored the problem, trusting that readers would assume the cartoon was funny and refuse to admit they were too stupid to get the joke. Another possibility is that I can get a Sharpie pen and draw a black line down the right side of the strip, and add speech or thought balloons. In fact, if we can come up with a good joke for the current two-panel cartoon, the book will have no defects. I'll have to up the price to $20, but you'll be able to gift it after you read it.
So the first step is to see if we can make that cartoon strip funny. Then I'll add the book to the store. Send your caption suggestions as comments.