A group of about 30 writers published by Genesis Press, a publisher of African-American romances, have banded together to publicize their complaints that the house has a history of unprofessional dealings dating back to the 1990s. The charges include failure to issue royalty statements, delayed and missing payments and inaccurate tax forms.

Kayla Perrin, an author who published two books with Genesis and is now published by Harlequin and Avon, complained that she didn't receive royalty statements for two years and has never received any royalty or subrights payments she said she is owed. Perrin also said she had received inaccurate 1099 forms and said she was unable to get the publisher to even respond to her complaints.

Angie Daniels, who has published four books with Genesis, and Miriam Pace, who has published nine books at the house, had similar problems, but noted that they had received much delayed and partial payments, in breach of their contracts. Daniels said she was paid only after threatening to withhold revisions to her manuscripts. The writers claim they are part of a larger group of Genesis authors who have all had similar problems with the publisher. Perrin said the frustrated group banded together to write letters to the Authors Guild and the Romance Writers of America to alert them to Genesis Press's business practices. "There has been a lot of really bad stuff going on," said Perrin. "It's terrible because so many new authors go to Genesis to get their foot in the publishing door."

Genesis Press was founded 12 years ago by Wilber Colom in Columbus, Miss. In late 2004, the house changed its distribution to Kensington Publishing, which has been working to grow its own presence in the African-American book market. Kensington president Steve Zacharius told PW that Kensington was not responsible for any problems that may have occurred before Kensington took over as distributor. He added that Kensington was prepared to help Genesis correct past royalty and payment problems, if the publisher can give Kensington the necessary information.

Colom and his executive editor, Deborah Schumaker, acknowledged some problems, but blamed them on a previous distributor. Problems may have been exacerbated, Colom said, when Genesis shut down for nine months as part of switching its distribution to Kensington. But Colom disputed some specific complaints and questioned whether writers had ever directed their complaints to him. "Anybody can say anything," he said, "but questions did not go unanswered. We sent letters to writers explaining the switch. By now everybody has received statements and everyone has been paid." He and Schumaker stressed that Kensington is not responsible for any problems.

Schumaker, who joined the company nine months ago, acknowledged, "Maybe we made a few mistakes. A few authors may have been left out in the distribution switch." But Schumaker said she has been working to correct problems. "We were behind on advances, but I do think things have changed."

She said royalty statements now go out twice a year, and she claimed that inaccurate 1099 forms would be corrected. Colom and Schumaker were emphatic that all the past problems cited by writers have been corrected.

Told of Colom's response, Perrin said, "It shows he's not willing to admit there is a serious problem. I fear there will be no satisfactory resolution for the many disgruntled Genesis authors."