Why should I make a map for my book?
Fantasy maps have been an integral part of literature since the days of Tolkien. One in every three fantasy books contains a map, and for good reason. Maps grant your fans an enhanced reading experience and a greater understanding of your world as a whole. They also give your book an impression of beauty and professionalism.
Not only can a map help attract readers, but it can help you organize your story as well. Even if you haven’t yet finished your writing and editing, consider making yourself a map to help organize your world and motivate yourself to finish.
How Do I Make My Fantasy Map?
There are two options for getting a map for your book. Like most things in the publishing industry, you can either hire a freelancer or do it yourself. However, unlike most things, when it comes to maps, hiring a freelancer may actually be just as cheap as doing it yourself. Here are a few recommendations:
Hiring a Freelancer
Fiverr has a plethora of talented artists capable of designing top-quality fantasy maps for delightfully cheap prices. Just search “Fantasy Map” into their search bar, scroll through various artists until finding the one you like most, then send them an offer.
99Designs has the best artists the industry has to offer, but they can get a pricy. If you have the money to invest, it’s definitely easier to find a top-quality artist here, and the process is more professional as well. On 99Design, you can work with the artists hand in hand to create your map exactly as you imagined it, and you don’t have to pay until it’s absolutely perfect. In addition, you can run a contest, in which multiple artists will compete to provide you with the best map.
Do It Yourself
There are many software programs available for building your own fantasy map, but the best one is probably Inkarnate. For only $5 a month, you can use their pre-made design tools to make fantastic, pro-quality maps. They also offer a free version which you can use to build yourself a template or organize your world while writing. However, the free version does not allow you to use the map for commercial use! Use it as a model for your world, or to show to your designer as a reference, but do not place it in your book unless you upgrade to the paid plan.
Tips for Making an Awesome Map
Whether you’re hiring a designer or going about it yourself, here are some small tips which can make a big difference in the quality of your map:
- A Compass
An old-fashion compass is a good mood-setter, adding a feeling of mystery and antiquity. A well-designed compass will catch the eyes of your readers, being the first thing they see when they glance at the map, and will intrigue them to continue.
- Location Names
Come up with enthralling names for your forests, mountain ranges, and cities. Add an element of foreshadowing to the names, as well as a reflection of what makes that location unique. For example, a mountain range mined by the Dwarves for gold can be called “The Goldstone Peaks.”
Have your designer sketch in trees, mountains, and lakes for a stunning, detailed display of your world.
- Reference Scale
Draw a small, one-inch line on the map and label it as a reference to give an understanding of relative distance. For instance, you can say “1 inch=1,000 miles.”
Where Should I Put the Map?
Once your map is complete, there are multiple options of how to format it into your book. Some authors prefer to make a giant map which spans two open pages, while other prefer a smaller one. Some authors prefer to place the map immediately after the book’s title page to grab readers’ attention, while other prefer it after the table of contents. Any of these options will work fine, just make sure you know what you want to do, and how large your page sizes will be, before having your map made.