On April 30, 1816, William Blackwood signed a contract with James Ballantyne, Scott's publisher, to print up to 6,000 copies of what became "The Black Dwarf". Publisher John Murray worked with Blackwood in the London market.
The relationship between Blackwood and Murray began a few years earlier, when Murray visited Edinburgh, in the fall of 1814. The development of their relationship is recounted in Samuel Smiles' "A Publisher and his Friends...":
'Among the friends that welcomed Mr. Murray to Edinburgh was Mr. William Blackwood, who then, and for a long time after, was closely connected with him in his business transactions. Blackwood was a native of Bradfute, booksellers, he was selected by Mundell & Company to take charge of a branch of their extensive publishing business in Glasgow. Hereturned to Edinburgh, and again entered the service of Bell et Bradfute; but after a time went to London to master the secrets of the old book trade under the well-known Mr. Cuthill. Returning to Edinburgh, he set up for himself in 1804, at the age of twenty-eight, at a shop in South Bridge Street--confining himself, for the most part, to old books. He was a man of great energy and decision of character, and his early education enabled him to conduct his correspondence with a remarkable degree of precision and accuracy. Mr. Murray seems to have done business with him as far back as June 1807, and was in the habit of calling upon Blackwood, who was about his own age, whenever he visited Edinburgh. The two became intimate, and corresponded frequently; and at last, when Murray withdrew from the Ballantynes, in August 1810 he transferred the whole of his Scottish agency to the house of William Blackwood. In return for the publishing business sent to him from London, Blackwood made Murray his agent for any new works published by him in Edinburgh. In this way Murray became the London publisher for Hogg's new poems, and Edinburgh; having served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Bell & "The Queen's Wake," which had reached its fourth edition.'