Below is a map of the Columbian Empire, admittedly a bit rough. I tried to mark places that were mentioned in Chapter 1. Obviously, not all of the provinces are marked. While they roughly follow the states and provinces of the United States and Canada, this is not a given. The 13 original colonies are the same, but, for example, there are 2 Californias, Upper and Lower, as both were conquered in one of the wars with the Mexican Empire. If I were to fill in the provinces, there would be such differences as no Oklahoma, no West Virginia, and just 1 Dakota, no Utah (the Mormons would have been suppressed in this world), and so on.
That the map is not “pretty” is okay. You are not cartographers. Rather, these maps help to ground the reader in the world of the story, giving them a sense of time and place: how far is it to the capital (and it matters if on horseback or by stagecoach or on foot). I do not want you to spend an inordinate amount of time on your map. The story comes first.
The map should include:
1. Place names: countries, cities, villages, and so on, that are mentioned in the story and that are signficant,
2. Geography that is pertinent: rivers, mountains, deserts, and so on.
3. If your story is set in a totally imaginary place, the following are required: directional compass (indicating North) and a scale of miles/kilometers ( do not make up new measurements), and a key to indicate mountains, forests, deserts, and capitals, and so on. These will vary depending on the scope of your map. For example, if set in a city, streets may need to be marked, as well as schools, houses of worship, and so on. An entire country, as I have below, mountain ranges, capitals, significant bodies of water, and the like.