You know, Self-Publishing isnt all that bad for a first-time author to get their work out in the world. Also, one significant advantage is that you retain all rights over the book's entire layout, page size, font, cover art, blurb, ect.

In addition, with each book you sell, you don't just receive 10% of the revenue or so, like you would receive if you were with Tor, Random House, Orbit, ect. Instead, you would get basically the entire sum of money that you generate from selling your books. Sure, you have to promote it yourself, but if you have a good advertising resume, you could really get yourself a head start.

I think this is basically what the Paolini's wanted.