Thank you for the comments and messages. Thank you for sharing your insights. So far what you've shared is that:
1. These writers really just want to be published, and the validation/prestige that comes with being "selected" by a reputable company.
2. Many of them didn't know what selling/turning over copyright meant at the time they signed the contracts. Few of them reviewed their contracts closely, and if they knew about copyright enough to ask why they had to sell it, it wasn't explained in a way that made them realize how much they were actually giving up.
3. Even if they knew, they didn't realize that it was possible to negotiate to keep it, or they were given the impression that the contract is "take it or leave it", that giving up copyright is a necessary step, and that they would have to say goodbye to a dream (see #1) if they said no.
So it looks to me that it's really coming from a lack of information: not knowing this, not knowing that, asking questions from people who aren't exactly in the best position to provide the answers (maybe because they stand to benefit from the author not knowing, and maybe because they also don't know that the author can and should negotiate for better terms).
Thank you for reminding me by the way that all we really want is to see our name on a print book. When you tell me that to explain why you "gave it up" so easily, remember that "seeing my name on a book" was my dream too. In 2009, I saw that dream come to life. It could have ended there. There are many novelists in this country (and other countries even) who write one book and that's the end. I've since written more than 10 stories, and published all of them. I've been able to write spin-offs, sequels, create a multi-part series, make bookmarks and shirts, post chapters here on Wattpad -- because my characters and stories continue to be mine. Anyone who wants any part of my work has to get MY approval.
Now what's an answer to the question "why did I give up copyright?" that makes sense to me?
"I wrote that story and I want someone to make books out of it, but I don't want to be associated with it anymore. Just take this out of my hands and do what you want with it."
That's a valid reason I think. It's why I can give up copyright for writing I am hired to do. Or why someone writing a certain genre does so only for the money.
But no one (from Wattpad specifically) has actually told me this yet. Because I think many of you do care. Or the ones who don't just haven't contacted me yet. I would like to think though that because many of you wrote your stories without being assigned or paid to, many of you do care, and you were probably just misinformed.
So - should this be a concern for your community? I think I've done all that I can, and it's not my place to tell businesses how to do what they do. If you want anything more to be done about this (more info, more education, more awareness of author's rights) then you have to decide that it's worth your time. Maybe you can ask Wattpad itself to promote copyright and author's rights. Maybe you can start sharing "best practices" among yourselves (because what's been good for my career is probably different for you). I don't know. Basta, if you care, then you have to do the work. We're here to help, but our words can only go so far.
BINABASA MO ANG
Publishing and Self-publishing: Advice for WritersNon-Fiction
[FILIPINO/ENGLISH] Advice for writers based on my experience self-publishing (more than 20 novels as of now) and traditional publishing (more than 10 novels with a traditional publisher, and consulting for other fellow authors). Read and learn, but...