How Electric Eggplant Made the Grade With Middle School E-Books- A PadGadget Interview

Annie Fox has been helping teens and preteens get through the toughest years of their life for more than 15 years. Her website, The InSite, is dedicated to providing tools for “teens and young adults to turn their world around.” Fox has also been writing books that speak to teens for more than two decades.

Two years ago, through Electric Eggplant, her popular series “Middle School Confidential” began getting the iOS treatment. Today, Fox is celebrating her 30,000 Twitter follower at @Annie_Fox by offering the first book in the “Middle School Confidential” series, “Be Confident in Who You Are”, free for 30 hours. PadGadget spoke with Fox through an email interview to discuss the app’s success and how she and her husband, David, got the book off the ground and onto the iPad.

In April of 2011, “Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are” launched on the iPad to great success. In February 2012, Electric Eggplant released the second book in the series, “Real Friends vs. the Other Kind,” which helped the series grow exponentially. “When Real Friends came out, sales of Be Confident moved to a new level, more than doubling previous daily averages,” said Fox.

While both apps are available on Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Color, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Android based devices, they have seen the greatest success on the iPad.

To generate interest in the Middle School Confidential series, Electric Eggplant went about contacting various websites for reviews. They have featured their apps on MomsWithApps’ AppFriday sale, as well as teaming up with the series’ print publisher, Free Spirit Publishing. Through Free Spirit, they were able to reach a larger number of readers. “Their long track record as a publisher of self-help books for kids made it much easier for us to get reviews from some of the larger review sites, like iPhone Life, Kirkus, and School Library Journal,” said Fox. The company also maintains its presence on the Internet through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. They regularly offer sneak peaks and giveaways to entice new readers to try the books out and drive app sales.

In fact, one of the ways they are continuing to generate interest in the Middle School Confidential series is with the current giveaway of Be Confident in Who You Are. Be Confident is FREE for 30 hours from Friday 12:01 AM PDT through Saturday 6 AM PDT in celebration of Annie’s 30,000th Twitter follower.

The Foxes decided to take on the giant that is the App Store on their own because they felt like they could market their e-books better than any marketing firm they knew of. “When a marketing firm has many fewer followers than we do, it didn’t make sense to hire them to promote our apps,” said Fox. Although they aren’t promoting it entirely on their own. They contribute much of their marketing success to their partnership with Free Spirit Publishing.

The transition from print to digital was fairly easy for Fox and her husband. “We decided to start developing apps in the fall of 2010. When we looked at possible apps to create, we realized we had already created great content in the Middle School Confidential series. Since the art was already created, the budget to produce the apps was within our range. David had the technical ability to create them, so it seemed like a perfect match,” said Fox.

Through hard work in promoting the Middle School Confidential series, Electric Eggplant has seen much success in their apps. They are planning on releasing the third app in the series, “What’s Up with My Family?” at the end of this year. Additionally, they have finished their first Read Aloud iBook for children (4-8 years) “Are You’re my Friend?” and are working on a second book for that series.

Fox, her husband and Electric Eggplant are dedicated to helping preteens and teens make it through the toughest times of their life. Anyone with a child in 5th through 8th grade should grab a copy of Be Confident in Who You Are while it is free, and then take a moment to download the second book in the series. Some of the lessons may be just what your kids need to understand the difficulties of middle school.

“Electric Eggplant is committed to creating excellent entertainment for young people. That’s our #1 goal and right up there with it, is the intent to develop content that gets kids laughing and engaged in story and character while also drawing them in on a deeper level. We want to help kids think in new ways about the choices they make, especially in the way they treat other people.”

Be Confident in Who You Are is available in the App Store. It is regularly priced at $2.99, but will be on sale until Saturday at 6:00 a.m. PDT. Real Friends vs. the Other Kind, the second book in the series, is available for $2.99 and is just as good as the first book. Additionally, the children’s Read Aloud iBook “Are You My Friend?” is available in Apple’s iBookStore for $0.99.

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik