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They were among the most popular plays of the period and were frequently performed, so that they had a wide audience already.
Publication might have diluted this audience, or indeed made the works available to rival companies.
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They were dependent upon their own wits and the assistance of entrepreneurs in the printing world, members of the Stationers Company, for getting their works published and for obtaining any income from those works.consider it a matter of indifference if those lines were never seen or published or read and were in no sense eternal.
Of course we may ascribe such sentiments to the exaggerated hyperbole of the sonnet form, ‘a poet’s rage, and stretched metre of an antique song’, and it has been fashionable from the Romantic period onwards to think of Shakespeare as the sublime inspired poet writing immortal lines, but not in the least concerned whether his words should survive his own demise.
We rely entirely upon the 1609 Quarto edition published by Thomas Thorpe for our knowledge of the sonnets.
In those days there were no copyright laws to protect authors.
The First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published by Heminge and Condell in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, did not include his poems.Shakespeare clearly was not averse to having his works published. His narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece he also published, with a fulsome dedication to the Earl of Southampton.