The Thin Reads Interview with Mishka Shubaly, Author of “Beat the Devil”
By Howard Polskin
Mishka Shubaly is the face of Kindle Single stardom and success.
Three years ago Mishka Shubaly was an unknown 33-year-old working in a New York bar with a checkered past, a thing for rock ‘n’ roll and a talent for telling a wicked good story.
Today, it’s estimated that he’s sold more than 150,000 Kindle Singles generating roughly $200,000 in royalties. His fifth Kindle Single, “Beat the Devil,” his 73-page account of his battle with his addiction to rock ‘n’ roll, was just published (read the Thin Reads review). To date, all of his Kindle Singles have hit the best-seller lists.
But when Shubaly was first approached to write a Kindle Single by David Blum, the Kindle Single editor in chief, he hesitated. They had known each other when Blum was the editor at The New York Press and published one of his first stories, Bad Dreams, about his experiences with an exotic, boutique drug. Over breakfast in early 2011, according to Shubaly, Blum told the Shubaly that he could make a lot of money writing Kindle Singles, a form of content first created and marketed in January of that year. Shubaly recalls saying, “That’s the worst idea he ever heard. I don’t know anyone who has one of those nerd pads (Kindle).”
But Blum convinced him and Shipwrecked, a true story about an ill-fated sailing adventure, was published in April of 2011. Immediately the cash started rolling in. Later that year he and Blum had another conversation in which the editor tried convincing his protégé to write about how he used ultra-long-distance running to tame his self-destructive tendencies with drugs and alcohol.
“I fought him,” remembers Shubaly. “I said, ‘The world doesn’t need another recovery memoir.’”
Again Blum prevailed. And again the money rolled. And then it really started rolling in, making “The Long Run” by far Shubaly’s most successful Kindle Single. More than 80,000 copies have been sold to date. His other sales figures: “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” more than 27,000; “Shipwrecked,” more than 25,000; “Bachelor Number One,” more than 13,000; and “Beat the Devil,” more than 2,000.
He says writing Kindle Singles changed his life. With the money he got from “The Long Run,” he bought his mother a house in California near his sister. That purchase was special for Shubaly because the family lost their home to foreclosure when he was 15 and his mother lost her home in the 2008 financial meltdown.
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Buy “Beat the Devil” at: Amazon