Do agents ever step outside their chosen genre? ie. an agent known for repping "chicklit" all of a sudden takes on a "serial killer" novel.
If so how do they discover a novel or MS etc. is it by word of mouth or from another agent?
Well, you know these writers. They just refuse to churn out the same thing over and over again. Miss Snark keeps sending them Fungible Widget lessons, but they are sadly remiss in taking the hint.
I have some "outside the norm" stuff on my list. It's almost always something from a writer who wrote in one genre for the first book and then did something else for the second.
Then of course there are the ones that started out being a mystery and when I took it out for a spin down Editors Row I learned that it's considered "something else". Well, I'm not about to toss in the towel, so off I go to sell ...something else.
And then, there are the things you fall in love with. I have two of those. They came via referral. "you have to see this". I did. I loved it. I said to the client "you don't want me as an agent, I don't do this work, I'll have to learn this entire field, I love this but do yourself a favor".
Well, she didn't listen and she said "enthusiasm counts most" so now I have this thing on my desk. I work at it every day. I make so many mistakes I just want to scream. I call up the client and tell her I am the Nitwit of the Day. She just laughs and says "quit complaining and get back to work". If I ever sell this thing I'm going to buy myself a Tiffany tiara and declare myself Queen of the Nitwits.
Short answer: yes.
Realistic answer: don't count on an agent leaping the genre fence for you if you're not already in her corral.