Fan community?

When do you create forums for your site? I'm running Google Sites, so comment boxes don't appear to be an option for fan involvement. Should I set up a forum on Proboards or a similar service to be available at my (still hypothetical) launch? Or is that putting the cart before the horse?

Putting the cart before the horse, in my opinion. Focus on having a good serial first. You don't even know if people will read it yet, so I wouldn't spend time on the ancillary stuff until you know they will.

Okay, thanks! What about a Facebook page? (Probably yes, since it should require less effort from both the author and reader?)

Facebook pages are indeed pretty easy to set up if you want to have one.

As for when you should create a place for fans to talk -- probably when you've got enough people trying to contact you by other means and you're sure they'd like a centralized location to do that in. I'd wait a year or two before worrying about it, personally.

I disagree slightly with melonmonkey. It's not quite cart before the horse, because your audience will learn to interact with your serial based on the tools you put out there. Yes, you absolutely need to focus on having a good serial, but if you have a good serial and don't have a comments section, then the people who read your serial won't comment. And if you add a comments section later, generally your first set of readers won't bother using it because they'll be used to it not being there -- the way they learned to interact with your serial was through reading only.

Likewise with forums -- if they aren't there, your audience will be used to not using them. This is something I learned the hard way, since I added forums long after I established my site and most of my readers simply ignore them, because they never used them to begin with.

That said, making a resource available doesn't guarantee that it will be used, so it's quite possible you go through the trouble of setting up a forum and nobody uses it anyway.

I'd recommend enabling comments. When and if you get so much discussion in the comments that a forum might be worthwhile, you can still add one. But honestly, I've seen no serial (apart from Wildbow's three stories) with so many comments that it might have needed a forum.

Thank you all! The fact that everyone has said that this is the golden medium has made me bite the bullet and hack together a comment box for my test Google Site.

I'm also totally blown away by the reaction from this community... I was expecting the post to gradually drop down the page without ever getting a response, so, once again, thank you all!

JPV1000, hope you don't mind my asking, but what do you mean by, "the golden medium"?

What I mean is that I was tired, had been up till midnight last night, and just gotten up from a nap. My words had decided to go off into the wilderness somewhere where I couldn't find them. (I was looking for 'happy medium' there.)

It is also embarrassing. What I meant was that everyone seemed to agree that comment boxes were the best solution indicated that they were worth the time, effort, and aesthetic sacrifices that had to be made.

There are so many great forums out there to talk about yours and others serials that it really would make it difficult for you to maintain and keep up a forum of your own. To me, I would want to be part of and well known in those already well-established forums than having to create, manage, maintain and promote my forum AND my serial. Having a centralized forum that we all share means more concentration of audience members. Adding comments to your serial definitely creates an interaction between you and your audience with regards to your specific serial, if that's what you're gunning for.

I started on Google Sites. I don't think there's a way of enabling individual comments (or at least, there wasn't back then) short of giving write permissions, which you don't want to do. What I did was embed an Excel File into a page along with a Google Form, which would flag my email upon an update. I got a couple comments every year. Then, when I shifted to a blog that DID allow individual comments per update, I still only got a couple comments every year. (Note that it wasn't listed here.) Still, comments happen more often than unsolicited email, so it's a handy thing to have available, if you want the occasional reminder that people are out there.

@zephy669 - I would love to have a centralized forum. I'd be thrilled to have one. The only problem I see is getting it out there (haha, what a unique and original concern) and the best analog we already have is That's not quite bustling yet, but I do have some high hopes for it someday.

It doesn't seem to be much for a serial author community. Honestly, it's mostly just a dumping ground for self-promos that most people ignore. The new mods, though, are slowly leaning it towards a reader oriented experience and I want to see it head that way completely. More discussions and such. So - yeah, you won't be starting from scratch if anyone wants to jump in!

I'll have to check out that Did not know it existed. So thanks Tartra!