Why is it so hard to find the Last Musketeer series?

A lot of readers have been very kind to write to me, letting me know that they have enjoyed my Last Musketeer series, but there are probably many of you who don’t even know that Last Musketeer series even exists — or maybe you do know about it, but you’ve had trouble finding it at your local bookstore.

If so, here’s why:

The Last Musketeer series was published by a different publisher than my other books. Belly Up, Poached, Spy School, Spy Camp and my upcoming Space Case were all published by Simon & Schuster, which has done a really wonderful job designing and marketing my books. Meanwhile, the publisher of the Last Musketeer didn’t do such a good job with designing and marketing.

(For those of you who don’t even know about this series, a quick update: The Last Musketeer is a trilogy I wrote after Belly Up but before Spy School. It’s about a 12-year-old boy, Greg Rich, who ends up traveling back in time 400 years to Paris and uniting the three musketeers — who are only teenagers as well — for their first adventure. There’s lots of excitement and adventure and swashbuckling.)

Marketing is extremely important in selling books. You may not realize it, but Simon & Schuster has done a great job of creating an author ‘brand’ for me. By which I mean that my books all have a similar ‘look,’ from the cover design to the colors to the shape and size. If you see the cover for Space Case, even though you might not know I wrote it, it kind of looks like the other books that I wrote, which might make you stop and pick it up:

spacecasecover

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’? Well, that phrase is really about people, not books. Everyone judges books by their covers. If a book has a cover that’s not very eye-catching or interesting, they don’t pick up the book.

So… Here’s the cover for ‘The Last Musketeer.’

LastMusketeerHC C

Not exactly eye-catching, is it? I don’t mind the title font, which has an ‘Indiana Jones’ quality to it, but I find the cover dark, old-fashioned and somewhat confusing. That’s obviously Greg in the foreground, but I’m not sure if the people behind him are bad guys who are chasing him or good guys who are just running along with him — and I’m the author. There’s nothing about this cover art that tells you much of anything about the story. And though there’s a catchphrase, it’s also confusing: ‘In a dangerous time, he’ll need more than a sword.’ What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

You could probably also argue that the title doesn’t even make that much sense.  If it’s the first book in a trilogy, why is it called ‘The Last Musketeer’?  Why isn’t it called ‘The First Musketeer’?

I made all these arguments years ago, because I had already seen the cover art for Belly Up — which I loved — and I thought that this cover was not only uninteresting, but also didn’t link thematically to Belly Up. By which I mean that if someone looked at the Belly Up cover and the Last Musketeer cover, they wouldn’t realize that both books were by the same author.

The company that published The Last Musketeer told me I was wrong, and since I was new to publishing, I believed them. But guess what?

I was right. I quickly found that, even at bookstores where they knew me and loved Belly Up, no one realized that The Last Musketeer series was also written by me. (Yes, they’d see that it had the same author name on it, but they often assumed there must be another Stuart Gibbs.) The publisher also didn’t promote the books very much, and so a lot of bookstores simply stopped carrying them.

Which means there’s a good chance that, if you want to get The Last Musketeer for yourself, you either have to ask your local bookstore to order it for you specially — or you have to buy it on-line.

Personally, as an author, I’d prefer that you buy it from your local bookstore, as I think bookstores are awesome. But if you don’t have a local bookstore anywhere near you (which is sadly the case many places) then you can just click here to link to where you can order from the publisher.

And while you’re at it, you can get the other two books in the series, Traitor’s Chase and Double Cross:

LastMusketeer2HC C

LastMusketeer3

Although I should point out that both these books are only available in hardback, which is another reason not so many stores carry them.

It’s possible that, as my other books start to do better, and more and more people ask for The Last Musketeer in their local bookstores, that the books will start to be sold in more places again.  Every year or so, I ask the publisher of The Last Musketeer if they wouldn’t mind redoing the covers to make them more like my other books, so that they’ll be more appealing to book buyers — and thus book sellers — but we’ll have to see how that pans out.  In the meantime, if you’ve read Belly Up and Poached and Spy School and Spy Camp and can’t wait for Space Case or Evil Spy School to come out, might I recommend The Last Musketeer?  It might be a little harder to find, but it’s still a good book!

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13 Responses to “Why is it so hard to find the Last Musketeer series?”


  1. Al

    Hi Stu,
    I read your post, and just for fun I made a cover for The Last Musketeer. I thought I would share:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/60satiaoh76xflx/Stu%20cover.pdf

    Your Huge Fan,
    Al
    P.S.: Maybe you could ask Lucy Cummins to do a cover for The Last Musketeer, and then give it to the publisher of The Last Musketeer. Do they let you pick the cover?

  2. Stu

    Al –

    How fast did you make that? It’s very cool!

    I’d love for Lucy to be able to do a cover, but I believe she’s not allowed to do anything for other publishers. Sadly, the old publisher wasn’t very interested in my thoughts on the cover. Simon & Schuster has been incredibly happy to hear my thoughts on covers (though since Lucy has done such a great job, my thoughts are usually things like ‘that’s great!’) The other publisher was very resistant when I suggested their covers weren’t as good as Lucy’s. (But it seems that I was right.)

  3. Al

    Thanks! It took me about 45 mins.
    Can’t wait for space case!

    Al

  4. Al

    Hi Stu,
    Is this a true description of evil spy school? Found it on Goodreads: After getting expelled from spy school for accidentally shooting a live mortar into the principal’s office, thirteen-year-old Ben finds himself recruited by evil crime organization SPYDER.

    -Al

  5. Mark

    I would like to second the recommendation for The Last Musketeer series. While the covers never really bothered me one way or the other, I loved the books. They are the great reads you’d expect from Stuart.

  6. justin

    Hey Stu! I have a question for you that is not related to this post, but instead is writing-related. So here’s my question, I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, but what do you do when you have trouble writing the middle of one of your novels? Like, I know all the ideas of what I want to put in the middle, but how would you make it a good length and flow fluently? That said, I also loved The Last Musketeer series, I thought it was very exciting and intense, and I found it easily in my public library system. And another cool thing I found is that on Amazon, Spy Camp hardcover version is now 6.28$, which is more than 50% off the MSRP and is 1 cent cheaper than the paperback version on Amazon :)

    Your Huge Fan,
    Justin

  7. Stu

    Justin –

    If you’re having trouble figuring out how to make the story flow in the middle of the novel, you might want to take a step back and outline what you need to do next, rather than trying to just write it. Sometimes, giving yourself a blueprint for what you need to do over the next few chapters is very helpful.

    As for the price of Spy Camp, it tends to be all over the place on Amazon. I have no idea what those guys are doing over there. But if it’s cheap today, that’s a good time to grab it.

  8. neo

    Hey stu!
    So at my library( SF public library), there’s a stand that holds the librarians’ favorite book(it changes like every few weeks). So the librarians favorite book for that time being was The Last Musketeer. Just wanted to let you know that it is quite popular around here.
    -your huge fan Neo

  9. justin

    Hey Stu! I got another question for you, but i think you might want to run it by Lucy. Anyway, the question is, how would I get illustrations into my book? I know you’re not a big fan of illustration, but I think my book could use a picture or two (that’s why you should ask Lucy, seeing she’s the artist). My friend is an incredible drawer, but I don’t know if it’s better for him to read my book and then create his own ideas for illustrations, or if I should just tell him how to draw it. So I hope you can give me some good advice, and oh, here’s another question. Could you give me a detailed description of some of the main characters in your novels? Like for Belly up, maybe Teddy, Summer, J.J., Large Marge, Teddy’s parents, and Pete Thwacker? And for Spy School, Ben, Erica, Chip, Warren,Zoe, Murray,Mike, Joshua, Alexander, Cyrus, and the principal? I know it’s a lot, but please tell me as many as you can whenever you have the time. I’d like to know this because I’m going to try and get my friend to draw the characters for me (I’ll send you the drawings). Lastly, I’ve noticed a mistake in Spy Camp. On page 293, it says, and I quote “In addition, it was dank and damp”, which I believe should be “dark and damp”. So that’s all for now, and I Look forward to Space Case, which I’ve already pre-ordered.

    Your Huge Fan,
    Justin

  10. Stu

    Justin –

    1) I’m not really an expert on illustrations, but I think the way it usually works is that you write the book and the publisher finds someone to do the illustrations, so it’s really not something you have to worry about.

    2) I hate to be the bad guy here, but you’re asking me to do a lot of work to write detailed descriptions of 18 characters for you. Generally, there’s a description of the character in the book, and if there’s not, that’s because I wanted you to use your imagination to decide what the character looks like.

    3) That’s actually not a typo. ‘Dank’ is a word meaning kind of clammy and wet. IT’s pretty similar to damp, actually, so maybe it’s a bit of overkill to have those two words in the same sentence, but it’s not really a mistake.

  11. justin

    Ok thanks for the advice. And I was just wondering if you could give me a few descriptions of the characters? Because now, it does appear that I was asking for a lot. Maybe see if you could give me descriptions of just Teddy, Summer, and Ben, and Erica? But this is only because, in the books, I haven’t been able to find enough description to really grasp the idea of characters. But thanks for answering everything!

    Your Huge Fan,
    Justin

  12. Stu

    Justin –

    There are some descriptions of Summer and Erica when you first meet them. But true, there isn’t really much description of Ben or Teddy, in part because those books are in first person, so it’s odd that anyone would describe themselves — but more importantly, because I don’t really want to describe Ben or Teddy. I want you to picture them yourself. Whatever you think Ben or Teddy looks like… That’s what they look like.

  13. jennifer

    I work in an elementary school library and LOVED this series. I am always recommending them to the students. I love that’s it’s full of adventure and easy to follow. I have never read any of the books in your spy school series. I am going to recommend them to my librarian. Thanks!