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

3 comments

  1. Hi Tanya.

    I also want to change my pen name as, even though I’ve used my Christian names as my pen name i.e., David John, it turns out there are quite a few authors by that name and their books keep being listed with mine. If the original name is associated with the barcode can you still change it?

    Thanks

    David

    1. If the barcode came from Amazon, yes, but if you bought it independently, I’m not sure. You’d have to check with the service you bought it from, I think.

  2. Thanks so much for this easy-to-follow guide! I wanted to separate out my erotica and romance names as well and this will be of great help.

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