I've had some success with a particular erotic title under my real name. I want to write similar stories with basically the same cover title, but I want to use a pen name due to the fact they may get a lot spicier. Would I be shooting myself in the foot by using a pen name? It's not a series. They don't have to be bought in any order. It's just stories of two characters who get into all kinds of erotic situations. So if the 1st story did well under my name, would I basically have to re-invent the marketing wheel to get fans to read subsequent stories under my pen name?
Well, yeah, you'd have to start all over in terms of building name recognition and a fan base and all that. The more books you have out under one name, the better they all do (assuming they are all good books, of course), so unless there's a real reason you don't want them associated with each other, I'd keep them under the same name.
I write erotica under a pen name and non-fiction under another name, but that means two Facebook pages, two blogs, etc. It's definitely more work. I need to keep the works separate for all kinds of boring "work" reasons, but I don't think I'd separate, say, erotic romance from bdsm.
People make pen name choices for all kinds of things. Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell uses different names for different styles, though she makes no secret of being the same person. Iain Banks also uses Iain M. Banks for a different genre. Carl Hiaasen writes YA and pretty graphic adult stories under the same name. Dave Barry does humor and adult novels and I think a YA too, all under the same name. Peter Carey does novels and non-fiction under the same name, as does Tom Wolfe. And then many with pen names, of course, we will never know about.
Yes I have work issues too. Maybe I will use my real name. Since I do have 5 erotic titles under my name. For stuff that's real raunchy and way out there, A pen name will be used. Yes it is a lot of work keeping the id's separate.
I agree it is a bad idea to keep changing your name from a marketing standpoint. However, it's not uncommon for writers to use different names when writing in different genres. The first that comes to mind is Nora Roberts, who writes under the name JD Robb for her crime series, but under her Nora Roberts name for romance. Same with Anne Rice, who used that name for much of her fiction but A. N. Roquelaure when writing erotica.
In the indie publishing world, there's J.A. Konrath, who uses the pen name Jack Kilburn.
With the exception of Rice early on, these writers make no secret of who they are, even when writing under their pen names. They do it, according to some interviews I've read, simply so their writers know what they are getting. If you pick up Anne Rice, you know you're getting something about vampires or witches or mummies. She didn't want such a reader to open a book expecting supernatural and find Snow White chained naked to a wall while the wicked queen watched her henchman spanking the bound maiden.
In other words, you know what sort of story, or series, you're getting based on the writer's choice of a pen name.
How does that help you? Well, for my three cents' worth, it all comes down to marketing and motivation. Why are you considering the change? To hide the racy work from those who know you in real life? If that's the case, then you're going to have to work hard at building a profile/identity from the ground-up, while at the same time working to keep your true identity apart from that.
However, if you just want to build an alter-ego of sorts, one which signifies this is a bit spicy so readers might want to beware, then that will take less time to build a following (assuming you already have a following). It will still take time and hard work, but maybe not so much as starting over with a new identity.
I don't know, for what it's worth, that's my take.
I'd change the author name on the older titles now to the new pen name and not worry too much about it. Have you sold more than 10,000 of each? If not, I'd say it won't matter too much and as time goes on, it only gets worse (if not impossible) to make that kind of change.