iPhone App Publishing – Overview

It will work. I'm a marketing genius. – Paris Hilton

Wanted to do a quick post on iPhone app publishing in order to let everyone know that this option is out there. There are hundreds of people putting apps in the store every day and hundreds of people not making any money on their apps.

Everyone sees the apps that are seemingly so simple that are making thousands of dollars every week and ask themselves “What are these guys doing that I'm not?”

The answer is: great apps and great marketing.

What is iPhone App Publishing?

In a nutshell, app publishing is taking the development team's Xcode build and binary app and turning it into a dynamic marketing tool. App publishers tend to have a marketing focus, even if it's a development firm, and capitalize on everything that happens to the app once it's in the store.

Here are a few different ways app publisher business models are setup:

  1. Everything is in-house. The developers, marketers, PR team, and everything else is all under the same roof. They are completely self-sufficient and work to build their own assets which they then market themselves. This is what you see with Chillingo and others and is typically an evolution of a development shop that has a few successful apps.
  2. Marketers partner with developers. This is when a marketing firm joins forces with a separate development shop and drives all the revenue for the app. This is often done through a revenue share.
  3. Project Management. One firm (typically PR) will connect all the dots for a development shop and a marketing shop to coordinate the project. This is different because it's usually done on a fee basis instead of revenue split. You won't see many of these since it's hard to justify a third party – this can, however, come through when dealing with a large corporate client.

iPhone app publishers should have the goal to get your app as much downloads as possible. Read more about the art of publishing and mistakes I've learned from in the post App Publishing – Lessons Learned.

What do app publishers do?

If you have uploaded your own app and gone through the entire process, you'll know how easy it is to be burnt out after the development phase. It's not that you don't want the app to blow up or that you aren't excited about the marketing, it's just tough to stay excited about something for so long.

Publishers will do help in a few different ways:

  • Icon and screen shot design. This is not always the case, but having a really powerful design for the store front can make a big difference.
  • Write your marketing language. In the app store, there's a good way to write your description and a not so good way. Make sure you do it right.
  • Build your app a custom website. It is vitally important to have a slick website supporting your app for people to learn more and ask questions. Publishers should be able to get you setup with a nice presence.
  • Get You External Reviews. Both paid and free reviews from some of the major review websites are worth their weight in gold for app credibility. App publishers can make all these happen so that your app has exposure and credibility right off the bat.
  • Set up promotion strategy. This is easily the most lucrative part of app publishing. They can take care of getting your app into one of the hundreds of promotions out there that can spike over 50K downloads a day.
  • Create marketing partnerships. Reaching out to bloggers and others in the community that your app is focused can be huge for long term success.
  • Manage pricing strategy. Do you know what your perfect price is? Publishers can have a targeted pricing strategy that will give your app the best ROI.

The prerelease of an app is as, or even more, important as the actual release. You need to iron out all the details during the prerelease stage to make sure that all bases are covered when you finally release that app.

Learn more tips for a successful launch and prerelease in the post Launching an iPhone App – Pre-Release Essentials.

How much does app publishing cost?

Most of the time app publishers are going to be very open to revenue splits. A rule of thumb will be that the better the app, the more likely the company will be to provide a revenue share.

This is why you may want to be wary of the firms that have the tiered packages for app publishing – you're going to just get a flat deliverable and the very least that is described in the statement of work. I would definitely recommend finding someone who wants to go in on this as a revenue split.

If you do the tiered approach, here are some numbers I've seen:

  • Basic setup – $500. Press release, 10 iTunes reviews, submission to 50 review sites.
  • Tier 1 – $2,500. Branded Press Release, guaranteed submissions to 10 review sites, 50 guaranteed sales or downloads, app leaderboard publicity (on external sites).
  • Tier 2 – $5,000. Guaranteed in top 100 categories for Apple (whatever it takes to get there).
  • Tier 3 – $11,000. Custom program designed for your goals. Deliverables determined on a case by case basis.

Honestly, mobile app marketing is the one area where I'm much more into a revenue share/partnership model. The reason I say this is because it requires being EXTREMELY creative to have the positive results you want.

These templated models really don't do anything that everyone else isn't doing and as soon as they achieve what they said they would, they're gone. And also know that the top 100 of a category other than all games is nothing to write home about.

App publishing is partnership marketing

The bottom line here is that partnering with a publisher is for people who have a good or great app and don't have the resources to take it to the next level. It's similar to hiring a real estate agent or a broker, but with a much more dialed partnership.

I can tell you right now that having a power marketer running your strategy is going to make you a LOT more money than doing it on your own, unless you are spending your time not doing updates and trying to write marketing copy and figure out which promotions to go after.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this type of marketing, please let me know. I am currently accepting partnerships (no fee) from developers or others with an app that they want to turn into a money machine.



  • S R Kaura MD December 15, 2011

    I have an educational app for children

  • Greg August 20, 2012

    Is there a general rule of thumb (split of revenue specifically) that the large publishing companies adhere to? I read an article that said the developers of cut the rope made a very small percentage of the revenues their app generated, once itunes and chillingo received their cuts. Thoughts?
    Also, what advantage is there in “partnering” with you vs. pursuing a relationship with one of the big publishing firms?

  • Carter Thomas Carter August 21, 2012

    Hey Greg,

    I’ve had mixed experiences with publishing and developing on both sides of the coin. If there is a clear upside (distribution network, PR, iron strategy) then often the split will be 50/50 net revenue (so 35% of the gross). If someone or a team of people develop an app, then want to hire a publisher/marketer, I’d say it goes down to 30% of the net for the publisher and 70% for the developer.

    Where it gets complicated is proving the value add. How do you know if the publisher is doing anything for you? It’s really hard to tell. Usually it’s better to ink this sort of the deal at the beginning so that there is no ambiguity.

    RE: small vs large business – it depends on the app’s projected success. Smaller businesses are a better long term play usually because they’re going to be more invested in the growth of an app, assuming they’re not trying to grow themselves. Large companies, however, can often walk in and deliver a massive launch which will change the trajectory of the app. They won’t do a whole lot down the road, but you’re paying for their connections.

    Hope that helps.


  • Trey Teague December 4, 2012

    I have an idea for an application that could be lucritive for both of us, please contact my email for more details.

  • yongfook February 16, 2013

    regarding getting external reviews – you don’t necessarily need an app publisher to help you achieve that. you can form relationships with the press by yourself… I know – easier said than done! But there are tools out there to make your life easier. You could contact an app marketing agency, or you can use a tool like:


    It’s is a competitively-priced service that submits your app to over 200 different tech blogs for review.

    Don’t try to fake your download numbers – that’s not a long term solution. If you have a good app, you’ll get a huge boost simply by being discovered by journalists and bloggers; that’s what Pitchpigeon can help you with! Hands down the best way to promote your app is to be written about.

    Now, you can’t engineer this nor fake it, but you can certainly give yourself a better chance of being reviewed by working with review brokers and PR companies with publisher connections.

    Pitchpigeon http://pitchpigeon.com

  • markpouncey June 9, 2013

    Howdy– I are more than interested– we are ready to go and want to do a partner thing with you as you mentioned. Is this the place to say so– sorry if not &&
    kind regards, mark-p.

  • garry June 12, 2013

    I’m interested too. Hit me back


  • jk July 13, 2013


    We are about to finish an iOS utility app. We are interested in partnering. I can send binary for you to check the quality of the app. Please let me know.


  • Alex Cheney August 6, 2013

    Hi I wonder if you could help!

    I am new to development but have had two educational games built along with an analytics portal which feeds information on how well children are doing against time and accuracy within the game.
    I am looking at all options to maket and wonder whether we could discuss options?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  • Tann August 7, 2013

    we are developing games app. Are you also expertise in games app publishing?
    pls kindly contact me.

  • Devintrey Adams August 15, 2013


    I have a really good idea for an iPhone application that has not been developed. Please contact me if you are interested.


  • Damir Kranjcec August 19, 2013

    Hi Carter,

    my name is Damir, developer and owner of UBJ3D, a small indie developer team.

    We have recently published “Ultimate BlackJack Reloaded” for iOS. It is for sure one of the best blackjack games/simulators out there. It was built upon the success of our Android game “Ultimate BlackJack 3D”.
    The game got it first independent review and it was excellent (http://www.apppicker.com/reviews/8832/Ultimate-BlackJack-Reloaded-app-review-raise-the-stages-and-beat-the-dealer).
    We are sure the game could generate nice revenue, we only need more exposure.
    If you are interested in partnering, please contact me.


  • Yasir October 14, 2013

    Hello Carter,

    We are interested in marketing our games on ios, android and wp8 platfrom.
    Below is the first game we published. We are working on more games. Which we would like to market.

    Please contact me if it finds your interest.


  • Attanayake January 3, 2014

    Hi Carter,

    We have a travel app named “Places Around” which has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from its users. It was also ranked among top 5 Travel apps in the US app store. We feel that this app has great potential and we are interested in marketing this app.

    Places Around https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/places-around/id479870823?mt=8

    Contact me if you would like to market our app.


  • Erik Keller January 24, 2014

    Hi Carter,

    We are a Dutch App development company specialized in developing wallpaper quote apps for facebook and instagram and are looking for an app marketeer that can help us to become succesful in the US market. Please have a look: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fortunicon-retro-wallpaper/id781305492?mt=8 and we would very much appreciate your feedback and perhaps have the opportunity to work together.



  • Nick Wheelwright February 25, 2014

    Hi Carter

    We are just finishing a “review ready” version of an app for iOS and Android and would like to partner with someone who can get it noticed.

    Its very exciting.

    I’d love to hear from you.



  • Tariq Akram May 12, 2014


    I have my app live in the market and got some review as well. Can we discuss about it?


  • Javier Carias May 18, 2014

    Hi Carter, check this out! We are looking for a Partner…




  • Abdeen May 28, 2014

    Dear Carter,
    My game is now in the Appstore, and I am spending so much time learning how to promote it, ill be happy if we work together, its a very nice tower defense game, it costs me over 50k $ so far, and it would be great if i work with someone who has the experience in app marketing and promotions.

  • Alexander Rieger April 28, 2015

    I am the developer of the mental arithmetic app “Math Hero: Quiz with friends” (http://www.changemystyle.com/math-hero/math-hero.html) which is a mix of “QuizClash” and “King of Math” – both top apps in the store.
    I am searching for a marketing partner who is willing to share costs and profit 50:50. If you think you can bring a multiplayer math quiz (knowledge quiz following soon) to success and would be willing to work on a revenue share then I would be happy to hear from you.

    Dr. Alexander Rieger

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