A New Venture for Betsy Amster
January 18, 2011
Betsy Amster, the wife of Barry Glassner, says she has always been a book person. “My mother used to read to my sister and me every night around the kitchen table,” she says. “That experience turned me into a child who took out six books from the library at a time.”
Today, Amster is president of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, a literary agency that sheopened in 1992. Before starting her own business, she spent 10 years as an editor at Pantheon and Vintage in New York and two years as editorial director of the Globe Pequot Press in rural Connecticut. She has also served as a frequent instructor at The Loft, an acclaimed literary center in Minneapolis, and has run publishing workshops at Mediabistro, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
Amster represents literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and general nonfiction in the areas of popular culture, social issues, psychology, and parenting. While she has clients nationwide, she considers her West Coast address part of her brand identity. “I like having a long leash from New York,” she says. “It gives me a certain advantage when it comes to finding authors and identifying fresh ideas.”
Her clients include MacArthur Fellow and urban farmer Will Allen, author of The Good Food Revolution (forthcoming from Gotham); psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of the New York Times best seller The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus (Scribner); María Amparo Escandón, author of the Los Angeles Times best sellers Esperanza’s Box of Saints (Scribner) and González and Daughter Trucking Co. (Crown); Mary Higgins Clark Award−winner Sandi Ault, whose Wild mystery series is published by Berkley Prime Crime; and Portland-based pastry chef Kim Boyce, author of Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), which just won a cookbook tournament judged by Mario Batali.
Amster grew up in Cleveland and went to college at the University of Michigan, where she majored in English. She and Glassner met in the mid-1980s. They’ve been married for 23 years.
When asked about how their work lives intersect, Amster explains that she is Glassner’s sounding board and first reader. “Because I used to be an editor, I quite like the process of polishing a piece of writing,” Amster says. “Barry takes criticism well—and he really doesn’t need much editing.”Amster says she looks forward to getting to know the Lewis & Clark community and the city of Portland. “Barry and I are both naturally curious, so finding ourselves in settings where there is so much to learn and to explore is very exciting.”