Fantasy author, Sarina Langer writes about her experiences using maps in her novels.
You can check out her website here: https://sarinalangerwriter.com/.
Everyone knows that we all judge books by their covers–but what about their maps?
A map in a fantasy novel is pretty much an instant sell for me–and bookworms and reviewers (aka your audience) love them, too.
A map in your novel tells your readers one thing above all others: you know what you’re doing. It instills trust in you as the author.
Moreover, a map is a massive step toward making your fictional world believable.
In other genres, a map is no issue–if you say your character travels from London to Oxford, your readers either know the distance because they’re local, or they can easily google it if they wanted to.
But a fantasy world you created? Your readers will only know where places are in relation to each other if you give them a map. You can tell them in the story, of course, but you know what we writers say about showing vs. telling.
I love leafing back to the map when new destinations are introduced (it’s one of the reasons I prefer paperbacks–it’s easier). It’s another way to interact with the book, which ultimately means your readers will get more out of it.
Naturally, there are exceptions. V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series is an urban fantasy trilogy set in parallel Londons, but because there are differences between the different Londons she’s got maps to highlight those differences.
So, depending on your book’s plot, a map might be a great addition even if you haven’t created a new world from scratch!
Let’s be honest, indie authors don’t have a great reputation. A lot of people think we don’t take publishing seriously.
While a map is just a small step toward showing you’re serious and doing everything you can, it also shows you’ve really thought about your world.
It’s not just a quick thing you’ve thrown together because your book needed to take place somewhere, but it’s a world you’ve spent a considerable amount of time on.
Having a map will reflect well in your reviews, too. If you don’t include a map, reviewers might not bring it up but it won’t affect the rating positively, either; however, if you do include a map, there’s a good chance your readers will comment on how much they liked it.
On a more personal note, a map looks good. The first time I saw one of my maps, it was a bit like–well, not like holding my baby for the first time, that would be the finished book, but maybe a bit like seeing the scan for the first time. Suddenly, your world is real.
And have you never opened a fantasy novel, seen the map, and lovingly gazed upon its beauty? Have you never been convinced to buy a book because of the map?
It could be the final argument in favour of your own book.
Self-publishing can get pricey fast, but your map won’t set you back much. It’s the cheapest addition to your book you can make. Also, if more than one book use the same map, you can re-use it instead of having to spend out again!
And if it convinces a potential reader that you do know what you’re doing and to give your book a shot, there’s really no reason not to.
Many thanks to Sarina, for taking the time to share her thoughts.
Check out her website here: https://sarinalangerwriter.com/.