Member Spotlight: Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine

We spoke with Maxwell Bauman, the editor in chief and art director of Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine, in our latest Member Spotlight.

What is the history behind Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine? When was it founded and what is its mission? 

DOOR IS A JAR LITERARY MAGAZINE Marion, SC Est. 2015 Focus: “On writing that is accessible for all readers” Genres Published: Poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, drama, artwork & book reviews Frequency: Quarterly Submissions period: Year-round Next issue: Summer 2024 CLMP Member Since 2022I started Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine right after finishing graduate school at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, back in January 2015. Our goal has always been to publish well-crafted poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and drama. (In this past year we’ve expanded to take in book reviews, too!)

When I was coming up with the name for the magazine, I had a list of esoteric words that sounded fancy, but these wouldn’t mean anything to the average reader who didn’t have a dictionary on-hand. I wanted something playful and engaging. A friend from college was a musician and said that when they were testing out band names, they had to feel comfortable saying, “Hi, I’m ____ from ____.” I was at my friend’s apartment in Bushwick, on the couch in front of the bathroom, and the door was ajar. A jar. I said it out loud and laughed. “Hi, I’m Maxwell from Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine.” And I’ve been repeating it nonstop ever since!


Door Is A Jar can be found in many bookstores around the country, including numerous Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million locations. How many readers do you reach, and can you tell us about your marketing and distribution strategies?

The first issue, which was all digital, came out in the fall of 2015. By the end of 2016, I knew we had to start making physical copies if we really wanted to connect with more people. We started in print with Issue 5 via Amazon KDP. In 2022, we began printing with Intellicor Communications, and we’re now distributed by LSC Communications/The Clark Group.

Issue 25, which we published in December 2022, was the first one to appear in stores. Now, each quarter an average of about 2,000 copies ship out to newsstands in major chains, independent bookstores, and in airports. This success is the result of building up our social media presence and, most importantly, making a quality product that was seen by the right people who recognized its potential. We also sell copies and subscriptions on our website.

We attend a number of literary festivals every year, including AWP, the Rainbow Book Fair, the New York City Poetry Festival, and the Brooklyn Book Festival. We sell cotton drawstring backpacks with our logos at these in-person events, and we also have stickers with QR codes that link to our website. In addition, we reach people all over the world through social media (@doorisajarmag on all platforms).


Door Is A Jar will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2025. What are your goals for this milestone year and beyond?

I have some big things planned for Door Is A Jar! Some of it is still under wraps for now, but I can share that I’m currently researching material and printers for shirts and jackets. I would love to see people walking around showcasing our logo or some of our beautiful covers.

Our next big goal is to start recording an audiobook version of the magazine (and maybe even win a Grammy). This could be either a full reading of the magazine or select poems from an issue, or an assortment from the year. There are a lot of possibilities.


The work you feature is typically short—poems do not exceed 31 lines, and fiction and nonfiction do not exceed 1,000 words. What inspired the decision to focus on shorter works?

It’s important that the work we publish is accessible to all readers. A lot of our submitters comment in their cover letters that they appreciate how we steer away from academic writing and focus on publishing short, conversational works that use familiar language.

In addition, our staff is made of all volunteers, so their time is valuable. Focusing on shorter pieces made it much easier for the editors to review more submissions.


How many submissions does Door Is A Jar Magazine typically receive?

Our submissions are steadily increasing! Before September 2022, when we switched from Submittable to collecting submissions via our own website, we averaged 30 submitted pieces a month. December 2023 was the first month in which we received new submissions every day, and in January 2024, we received submissions from more than 100 people—a new record!

In 2023, we received a total of 2,757 pieces submitted by 942 people. More specifically, 502 people sent in poetry, 282 submitted fiction, 70 submitted nonfiction, 56 submitted art, 24 submitted drama, and 8 submitted book reviews. These submitters hailed from 45 states (including Washington, DC) and 34 different countries. Our 2023 acceptance rate was 22.61%.

How can interested writers submit their work to Door Is A Jar?

Submissions to Door Is A Jar Literary Magazine are always free and open year-round. You can submit directly through our website. Read our submission guidelines and send us your best today!