Can you change the pen name for a published work?

Having now done this, I can tell you the answer is yes. It’s not easy, and there will always be some traces of the former pen name in existence, but I managed to do it.

Backstory: I published a handful of works in different romance and erotica sub-genres and intended for them all to mingle under the same pen name, there being too many sub-genres that overlapped each other to bother creating that many pen names. But after one of my more romantic works attracted a lot of new readers, people started stumbling into – and then reviewing (badly) – a book that stood out from all the others, a book that had done quite well in reviews when it was only playing to its target audience. I realized I needed to isolate that one book, especially since I had a sequel coming out.

Lesson learned: my mistake was not in mixing M/M with M/F or vanilla with BDSM, because readers can tell from a blurb whether a story matches their preferences. My mistake was in mixing realistic romance with non-reality-based porn. Some readers like both! But people should know what they’re getting, and a blurb can’t always adequately convey tone.

Here are the steps I followed to create a new pen name and move an already-published eBook to the new name:

Step 1: pick a new name. In my case, I wanted a very similar name because I didn’t want to separate my pen names so far that people couldn’t find their way between them. I just wanted them to have to knowingly cross that divide. I chose T. M. Chris

Step 2: edit or change the book cover to match the new pen name

Step 3: in KDP, in the details for that book, change the author name

Step 4: create a new Author Central account (there’s currently no way to manage multiple pen names from a single Author Central account)

Step 5: add the book to T. M. Chris’s list of books

Step 6: contact KDP support and ask them to remove the book from Tanya Chris’s list of books (you can’t do this yourself)

Step 7: contact a librarian on Goodreads via the librarian group and ask them to create a T. M. Chris author profile and to create a new edition of the book with the new cover and T. M. Chris as author

Step 8: create a new user profile on Goodreads and use it to claim T. M. Chris’s author profile by searching for the book and clicking that “is this you?” link

Results

  • On Goodreads, the original cover will be forever part of the original edition and both pen names are displayed as author
  • On Amazon a search for Tanya Chris still turns up the book I moved over (though that might be because I’ve got the publisher listed as “Tanya Chris publishing”)
  • On KDP, I use a single account (the original account) to manage all books for both pen names, but for Author Central and Goodreads, I need two accounts
  • I only have one website because I’m not trying to hide the link between the two names, but that means I only have one blog.  I added a tag for Tanya Chris posts and one for T. M. Chris posts and gave the feed for those tags to Author Central and Goodreads so I can control what posts appear under which pen name

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