Breakfast at Tiffany's was originally sold to Harper's Bazaar for $2,000 and intended for publication in its July 1958 issue. It was to be illustrated with a big series of photo montages by David Attie, who had been hired for the job by Harper's art director Alexey Brodovitch. However, after the publication was scheduled, longtime Harper's editor Carmel Snow was ousted by the magazine's publisher, the Hearst Corporation, and Hearst executives began asking for changes to the novella's tart language. By this time, Attie's montages had been completed, and Alice Morris, the fiction editor of Harper's, recounted that while Capote initially refused to make any changes, he relented "partly because I showed him the layouts ... six pages with beautiful, atmospheric photographs." Yet Hearst ordered Harper's not to run the novella anyway. Its language and subject matter were still deemed "not suitable", and there was concern that Tiffany's, a major advertiser, would react negatively. An outraged Capote soon resold the work to Esquire for $3,000 ($35,900 today); by his own account, he specified that he "would not be interested if [Esquire] did not use Attie's [original series of] photographs." He wrote to Esquire fiction editor Rust Hills, "I'm very happy that you are using [Attie's] pictures, as I think they are excellent." But to his disappointment, Esquire ran just one full-page image of Attie's (another was later used as the cover of at least one paperback edition of the novella). The novella appeared in the November, 1958 issue. Shortly afterward, a collection of the novella and three short stories by Capote was published by Random House — and the glowing reviews caused sales of the Esquire issue to skyrocket. Both Attie and Brodovitch went on to work with Capote on other projects – Attie on Brooklyn Heights: A Personal Memoir, and Brodovitch on Observations, both published in 1959.
The collection has been reprinted several times with the other short stories, "House of Flowers", "A Diamond Guitar" and "A Christmas Memory". The novella itself has been included in other Capote collections.
Capote's original typed manuscript was offered for sale by a New Hampshire auction house in April 2013. It was sold to Igor Sosin, a Russian billionaire entrepreneur, for US$306,000 (equivalent to US$340,000 in 2020). Sosin said he planned to display it publicly in Moscow and Monte Carlo.