Hey, sgl! Cool to see you here. :)
We sorta went back and forth on page comments vs forums, but in general, we opted for a place we could more easily moderate as a safe space. Disqus and the like help keep out spam, but we’ve seen a lot of great sites (especially feminist-leaning ones) get their comment sections wrecked by creeps who are comfortable with Disqus. And, since we’re a publisher, we wanted to open up a space for dialogue but also let our creators’ hard work exist online on its own. I loved open comments on Tokyo Demons, but I’m also not every creator, nor do we expect all of our creators to be checking the Sparkler page every day to answer comments. The concept of open comments below every chapter of fiction is relatively new and we didn’t want to force that on our launch creators, so this forum seemed like a happy middle ground.
That said, maybe we’ll ditch forums and go open comments someday; this is just how we wanted to run the first year. But I like what we have here so far.
As for submissions, we’re very happy to consider proposals from anyone (including romance authors), regardless of whether or not they’re connected to the anime/manga fandom. Because of the way we designed our open submissions this summer, word of mouth spread them pretty far; we got pitches from all over the place, not just anime/manga fandom, because of our focus on Female Gaze. But reaching out to a few specific communities is always great when we can spare the time, so Goodreads is a good idea for a later round. Our editor Jill is pretty involved in the romance novel community (like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) and would probably be good at that. :)