Now how many eBook fantasy novels have you read that have maps? Not as many, perhaps?
So my question is, why aren’t more eBook fantasy novelists putting maps in their eBooks?
Here are a 10 possible reasons:
- They don’t know how;
- The fantasy world is too large or too small;
- The maps they’ve made look like something a 4-year old would draw;
- They don’t know how to use map-making software;
- Their fantasy novel isn’t good enough or long enough for a map
- They’re lazy;
- They’re a writer, not an artist;
- They don’t know how or where to hire someone to make them a map;
- They Have No Inspiration;
- Fantasy novels don’t need maps!
Let’s take a look at each one of these points in turn. Doing that may be able to shed light on why few eBook fantasy novels have maps. And it just might make the prospect of designing a fantasy map for your novel less daunting.
Authors Don’t Know How to Make Fantasy Novel Maps
The Fantasy World is Too Large or Too Small
- Too Large: Many people think that their fantasy world’s just too large for a map. Perhaps there are multiple continents, each of which requires its own map. Well, I don’t think that’s a viable excuse; there are plenty of fantasy novels that have more than one map. Another option is to have your large map with few details, then have a detailed inset that shows the main area of the world your novel takes place in.
- Too Small: This is another excuse that just doesn’t fly with me. If you’ve got a really small fantasy world it should be quite easy for you to make a small, and very detailed map. In fact, I think having a smaller map opens up a lot more possibilities for your story than a larger map does. You’re able to focus on a smaller area, and that means you can focus on smaller areas of your story, making them fuller and richer for the reader. There are plenty of examples like this, such as the simple and small map below:
The Maps Look Like They’ve Been Drawn by a 4-Year Old
Take a look at this map of Jonguria that I made with MS Paint several years ago when I was outlining and coming up with my fantasy novel’s story:
Authors Don’t Know How to Use Map-Making Software
One program that many authors like to use is calledAutoREALM, and you they’ll really help you make a map if you’ve got the time and inclination. The software can be a bit tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you do you can make very simple maps to very complex maps. Here’s an example of one I found that I thought was both simple and effective:
The Fantasy Novel Isn’t Good Enough or Long Enough For a Map
If you think your novel is too long for a map then I think you need to get your head checked. The longer the novel the more critical it is to give your readers a visual benchmark, otherwise they’ll get lost in your novel, and not in the way you want.
Authors Are Lazy
Writing a fantasy novel’s difficult. You have to create characters, a setting, oftentimes a whole new world. And then you’ve got to outline, think of chapters, and not to mention an ending. And when that’s all done you’ve got to write out each line of the novel one word at a time. It’s no wonder there’s so many half-finished or barely started fantasy novels out there.
When you do finally finish your fantasy novel, my advice would be to sit on it for a week or longer. Let it, and you, rest. When you’re ready to come back to it, think about your world. Would your readers be better off with a map? Would it create more sales for you? And if you were to pick up a new fantasy novel, perhaps even your own, would you feel better seeing that map there?
Laziness is no excuse for anything, especially when it makes that novel you’ve slaved over for months or years so much better.
You’re a Writer, Not an Artist
You don’t need to be an artist to create a decent fantasy map. And when you take the effort to at least make something you’ll be in a great position to give it to an actual artist. They’ll bring your vision to fruition and you’ll have that map you’ve dreamed of.
Here’s a very simple map that looks to have been hand-drawn or made in MS Paint. I’m guessing the creator wasn’t the best artist, but they did quite a good job:
You Don’t Know How or Where to Hire Someone to Make Your Map
Those are three sites for all kinds of freelancers around the world. You’ll find many artists and graphic designers that will help you out, and for very little money. They’ll even give you great ideas and prices on eBook covers.
If that’s not an option you’d like to pursue head up to your local university’s art department. Put a notice on the board for as little as $10 and you’re sure to find a starving artist willing to make you a great map for some extra beer money.
And if that doesn’t pan out try talking with some of your friends. Most people have at least one friend who had artistic ambitions at one point or another; now’s the time to help the re-realize that dream.
Here’s a very simple, effective, and visually-appealing map that looks to have been hand-drawn and then uploaded onto the computer:
Authors Have No Inspiration
Here are some great sites that might just give you the inspiration you need to make a wonderful fantasy map:
Fantasy Novels Don’t Need Maps!
I consider the map a distraction to the story. The map was put in the book as one of the cliched fantasy elements that fantasy publishers require. In recent books I've been giving less and less emphasis to the map.
I expect readers to use their minds when they read the story, without the artificial aid of maps.
I think it’s terrible advice, however. You could disagree with me, after all I sell a handful of my fantasy novels each month while Goodkind no doubt sells thousands, but I’ll leave that up to you. Hopefully if you’ve gotten anything out of this post it’s that:
- You can make a map;
- It doesn’t have to be the best in the world;
- Your readers will be better off for it.
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