Wizards of the Coast have announced the signing of a new contract with R.A. Salvatore, their most successful author. Salvatore will pen six new books set in the Forgotten Realms setting featuring his signature character, the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, to be published between 2011 and 2016, almost taking him up to the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of his first novel, The Crystal Shard.
The article is noteworthy for mentioning Salvatore's popularity. I'd seen previous claims that Salvatore had sold 10 million books worldwide, which struck me as possibly on the low side compared to Weis & Hickman's 22 million given that Salvatore has, unlike them, had a constant rate of output since the late 1980s and also has a greater profile currently. The article confirms this, stating that Salvatore's sales now stand at 15 million in the United States alone (meaning far higher, maybe twice that much, worldwide). This definitely puts Salvatore in the big league of fantasy mega-sellers, on a par with or just ahead of the likes of Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks and Raymond Feist.
By all accounts Salvatore is a great guy who has been a major inspiration to a generation of budding fantasy writers and his early books (the first nine or so) stand as fine examples of 'gateway' fantasy books for younger readers looking to break into the genre.