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:
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.’
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:
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!
UPDATE: In 2019, Harper Collins finally reissued The Last Musketeer with much better covers — and in cheaper paperback versions as well. So the books are now far more widely available.