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I bought a bundle of Forgotten Realms novels as ebooks from Humble Bundle and I'm a bit confused about the authorship of the books.

Take this page as an example: Cover 3

According to Wikipedia, R.A. Salvatore would be the author of Forgotten Realms novels. Here, the page says he is the author of "War of the Spider Queen", which I suppose is the series of books. But then why does each book also have a separate author? For example, the author of "Book I - Dissolution" is Richard Lee Byers. The "About the Author" page of the book also mentions Richard Lee Byers, and not R.A. Salvatore: enter image description here

How does that even work? How is R.A. Salvatore actually related to the books if he didn't actually write them?

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R.A. Salvatore "oversaw" the book series, acting as co-editor.

Q. What can you tell us about writing the final book of R.A. Salvatore’s War of the Spider Queen?

PK: It was a unique experience. Six authors and two editors worked together to create characters and a story arc that stretched across a six book series. I enjoyed the process, particularly working with Bob Salvatore. Man, I was just desperate to wrap up the series with a bang that did credit to the quality work done in the previous books (I wrote the finale, Resurrection).

Interview with Fantasy author Paul S. Kemp

He claims to have helped to sketch out the overall story arc as well as acting as "content editor" with special responsibility for editing the part of the novels that most closely related to works that he had planned for the future.

Q. How did the War of Spider Queen series come about?

R.A.S.: The idea was the brainchild of Phil Athans, my editor. Honestly, it took them a long time to talk me into signing along on it. In the end, the idea that I could help some other writers get some much-needed exposure is what won out, and so I agreed. At that point, I flew out for a meeting in Seattle, where a group of us – Phil, myself, Rich Baker, Thomas Reid, Richard Lee Byers and others – created the general story arc for the series. After that, my role became that of content editor, mostly making sure that the parts which took place in Menzoberranzan kept the place where I wanted it for future works.

Interview with Author R. A. Salvatore

Given that several of the authors were 'unknowns' within the fantasy genre, it makes good financial sense to have Salvatore's name on the front cover, even if his involvement was peripheral.

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  • Ah, so R.A. Salvatore was more like a chief editor/architect of the overall story instead of a "frontline" author. – Kal May 3 at 8:59
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    @Kal - Whenever I see something like this, my suspicion is that he had almost no involvement other than reading the story sketches that someone else wrote, then cashing the cheques (JKR did the same thing with the Cursed Child play). The fact that he was co-editor just makes me all the more wary. – Valorum May 3 at 9:02
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    Most likely, given his quote, he literally just read the story and then said "No, you can't kill X because they need to exist in [story I'm writing]; and Jeggred would never say Y, he'd say Z", that sort of thing. That's pretty common in this kind of series. I doubt he literally cashed the check without anything, since he was still writing in the general world (as opposed to certain authors who just put their names on the series, but don't write in it at all). – Joe May 3 at 21:32
  • @Joe - You are, of course, assuming that he's not ghosting all of his books at this point. His writing style is easily replicable and he's a multi-millionaire. – Valorum May 3 at 21:47

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