How To Get Your App Published


How do you get your app published? (scroll to bottom to watch video!)

The answer involves getting a publisher for your app or game and discussing some strategies to make it a success.

I had an important question recently that I'm going to kick off with: What are your top tips for releasing an app through a publisher, if you recommend that route?

To answer this question, there are two things I need to talk about. But first, is it a good route? Yes, getting a publisher can be a great route. If you've got an app with mass market appeal, something that could go viral if it sees a spike in downloads, getting a publisher can be everything.

1. It must be polished.

This is something I've learned from everyone involved in the business. When your app or game is polished, it means that it's super intuitive, smooth, and the details are well put together. Polished means your app runs nicely, and if it's a game, that there's a great flow to the experience.

The key point is that, when reaching out to publishers, they're going to have to look at your game first. They'll ask for a test build or have you put it on the store so they can download it. They're just people who will play it in their office and their immediate impression is important. They'll either like it or not.

So it comes down to the fact that your game needs to be polished enough to feel just right, to make that best impression.

2. Negotiating good terms.

You'll want to be able to negotiate good terms for your contract with a publisher. Of course, it's hard to do this if this is your first game and you really need the downloads. Publishers have all the leverage, and since they get people coming to them all day every day, they can negotiate some pretty ridiculous terms.

You'll see offers like 80% of the revenue for them, 20% for you. But you may end up doing the mental math and saying, well if I get %20 of the profit from 200,000 downloads, that's better than nothing. Right?

While you can't change the initial terms, you can negotiate the other aspects around your app. Try negotiating the licensing agreement of the IP itself. If you have a great logo, a solid brand, or something else unique, you could license that. You might be able to get the website or the trademark all to yourself.

The second aspect of this is settling on the length of time before you can renegotiate your contract.

Oftentimes it can be something as long as two to three years, but the earlier on you can renegotiate, the better it is for you. The first deal will never be great. But if you can renegotiate after six months with a successful app, you'll be able to do more like a 50/50 split. The profits will turn in your favor.

If a publisher says no to all of this stuff, you can hire a lawyer to hash it out or simply go find a different publisher who will agree to better terms.

So we've got a polished app and negotiating good terms. These two concepts are the most important to consider for getting a great relationship with a publisher.


But I've got one final thought that lets us think outside the box a little.

You may look for publishers by scanning the app store and finding folks already in the business. But remember: anybody can be a publisher. Whether it's a celebrity or an entrepreneur of any stripe, it's possible.

So what you can do is find someone with the ability to move large volumes of any metric, whether it's social media influence or email address. They can become a publisher too. You can seek them out and negotiate far more favorable terms than you might with an established publisher.

Instead of approaching a successful major publisher, think about talking to, for example, a popular YouTube vlogger who has 500,000 subscribers but isn't doing much in the way of monetization.

Think about it from their point of view: all of a sudden they've got a good, polished game coming in the door. They'll be super willing to do closer to a 50/50 revenue split with you because they're going to need the income.

Here's an example: I know some guys with newsletter lists of hundreds of thousands of people. They send out an email every month with stock picks or whatever. Imagine if you went to them and said hey, let's do a 50/50 split on this finance app I have. They'll eat that right up! Then they can just drop a link to your app into their newsletter or website and you've got an instant hundred thousand downloads.

The key here is to remember that publishers do not need to have “publisher” next to their company name to have power. Anyone with influence, anyone with the ability to distribute and push people to your app can be your publisher.

Rock and roll,


  • StillUntitled June 16, 2016

    Nice entry, very to the point. I like the style and I love the tips about the business to business relation and experiece sharing.
    I don’t have any input in exchange since this is pro info. Browsing through blogs covering app development, those business topics are rarely discussed. And this seems important. Thank you for the solid content!

  • Mike July 11, 2016

    Hello Carter,
    I love you articles. I was readying your article on how much an app should cost and development part of it. I am working on an App idea and dont know where to start and would like your expertise.
    I am outsourcing the developemt and currently writing the specifications. As far as the idea privacy protection and ducomentations, what do you suggest should be done?
    Also, what are the best way to go about mocking the idea in a app for the specification document?

    Thank you in advance.


  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas July 11, 2016

    @Mike – You can get an NDA if you’d like to protect your idea, although my personal experience is that NDAs are not helpful if your developers are overseas and you can’t enforce it. Mocking up the idea for an app can be done easily through wireframes. It’s all about going step by step through the app experience and writing down what the user will do. Good luck!

  • chirag October 30, 2016

    Thanks a lot for sharing such information.

  • Andrea Maria January 9, 2018

    Thank you for sharing useful article. First do market research on to find out what people want to buy and about marketing strategy.

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