How close must the query match the manuscript? I know this must seem like a stupid question, but I've been receiving query assistance from a literary intern (1), and he gave advice that I haven't seen elsewhere. I need to confirm it before I start sending out my query.
My manuscript mostly stands alone, but is the first of a potential series. Because of this, the plot of the sequel is *vaguely* hinted at in the stakes of the query. I asked the intern if an agent would be PO'd if something I mention in the query doesn't show up in the manuscript. He told me that things can be fudged in a query,(2) and mentioned that one thing in his own query was an outright lie(3). He had revised and didn't bother to fix the query to match (he was signed by an agent). He said if the query is good and clearly for the same book, and if the book is good and similar to the query, no one cares about specifics. I'm hoping his advice is correct.
Can you "fudge" a few specifics in a query?
you can do anything you want in a query up to and including query for a fiction novel. The real question is what's at stake when you do something idiotic like...lie?
The purpose of a query is to entice the agent to read the manuscript. If an agent reads the manuscript thinking one thing is going to happen, and it doesn't, that's a pretty big thud. Is that something you want to risk?
On the other hand why are you vaguely hinting about anything in a query? The stakes in your query are the stakes in this novel, the one you're querying. Not any other.
If you think you need to fudge a few specifics in your query, you need to fix the novel or the query or both.
And I've got a few questions for you:
(1) what the hell is a literary intern? An intern at a literary agency? This is the least informed and experienced person at an agency. I'm pretty sure it's the least right person to be asking for advice.
(2) Unless he's making the decisons on what's signed to the agent's list, he's not in a positiion to tell you this.
(3) oh great. Insert image of eye-roll here. Even if this is true, it's absolutey TERRIBLE advice. He's mistaking HIS experience for the universal norm. Well, that's typical of interns which is why (see #1)