McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

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Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

ISSN: 2325-25881

Purpose, objective, or mission:McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern began in 1998 as a literary journal that published only works rejected by other magazines. That rule was soon abandoned, and since then the Quarterly Concern has attracted work from some of the finest writers in the country. At the same time, the journal continues to be a major home for new and unpublished writers; we’re committed to publishing exciting fiction regardless of pedigree.”2 They are committed to finding new voices, publishing work of gifted but under-appreciated writers, and pushing the literary form forward at all times.3


Target audience: Smart, open-minded readers.4

Publisher: McSweeney’s Publishing.5

Peer reviewed? No.6

Type: Civilian publication, literary journal.

Medium: Print journal.7

Content: Literary and experimental fiction and nonfiction, with the format and editorial focus changing for each issue.8 Fiction pieces include short stories and screenplays, while nonfiction works include essays and journalistic pieces. The journal has won multiple literary awards, including two National Magazine Awards for fiction9, so it’s safe to say that anything published in McSweeney’s will be of high literary quality.

Frequency of publication: Quarterly.10

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines:

Types of contributions accepted: Fiction and nonfiction. Memoirs, poetry, book reviews, and previously published work will not be accepted.11

Submission and review process: **Note: as of October 2020, submissions are temporarily closed**

Submission guidelines to McSweeney’s are highly informal. There are no rules or length restrictions, although they recommend reading the magazine to get a sense of what kinds of work they’re interested in.12. Submit via the website. According to the website, “We gladly consider unsolicited works, but because we are a very small organization with an even smaller editorial department, it often takes us a long time to respond to our submitters.”13

Editorial tone: Offbeat, eccentric, and inventive.

Style guide used: None indicated. “It’s better if you don’t use colors or Fun Fonts or strange formatting. We discourage submissions of art or submissions containing art.”14

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

LIS authors may have as good a chance as anyone for getting a submission accepted in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Their whole publication process seems to be highly informal, but the quality is certainly on par with journals that have higher subscription/circulation rates. An exploration of McSweeney’s multiple related websites is a must to see if your writing project is a match for their style. LIS authors might contribute a fiction or nonfiction piece inspired by their experience as library professionals, keeping in mind that the purpose of such pieces should ultimately be to entertain the reader, rather than function as straightforward articles on an LIS-related issue.

Audience analysis

About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation: The print journal has 8,000 subscribers, while the website receives one million unique visitors per month.15

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: Published in San Francisco, California16, and in English.

Reader characteristics: While no information regarding reader demographics is provided, a review of publication suggests readers are intelligent, open minded, literary, and comfortable thinking outside of the box.

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Limited, the same as the general public.

Conclusion: Analysis of reader characteristics and their potential impact on authors

Eclectic and open to new and creative thought is one way to describe the readers of McSweeney’s. The journal’s readers are literary and well-read, and it’s safe to assume that they generally support and appreciate libraries. A visit to the multiple McSweeney’s websites will give any writer interested in submitting work a better sense of whether or not their work will be a match.

Last updated: October 2, 2020


Show 16 footnotes

  1. McSweeney’s.”, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, accessed March 24, 2018,
  2. “Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Official Media Kit for Issue 49.”,, accessed October 14, 2016,
  3. “McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.”,, accessed October 13,
  4. “McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.”
  5. “Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Official Media Kit for Issue 49.”
  6. “Guidelines for Quarterly Submissions.”,, accessed October 13, 2016,
  7. “Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Official Media Kit for Issue 49.”
  8. “McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.”
  9.  “Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Official Media Kit for Issue 49.”
  10. “Quarterly Concern Subscription.”,, accessed October 13, 2016,
  11. “Guidelines for Quarterly Submissions.”
  12. “Guidelines for Quarterly Submissions.”
  13. “Guidelines for Quarterly Submissions.”
  14. “Guidelines for Quarterly Submissions.”
  15. “Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Official Media Kit for Issue 49.”
  16. “Contact Us.”,, accessed October 14, 2016,
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