I've spent a lot of this summer transferring some of my backlisted books -- older ones that have been out of print for sometime -- into e-book form. Here's a 12-step program on how you do it:
1. Read your contract and try to decipher what it says. Force majeure? What?
2. Find the clause that deals with out of print books.
3. Read the clause sixty-seven times to see if you understand what it means on how to contact the publisher and ask for your rights back.
4. Write a certified letter asking the publisher for your rights back.
5. Wait awhile, oh, six months or so, depending on what the contract says.
6. Chafe at how long it's taking for those six months or so to pass.
7. Receive a response from the publisher, telling you that some of your works are not yet vulnerable to reversion, but they would like to publish the others as long as you sign your e-rights away to all of them on this dotted line.
8. Politely refuse said offer and tell them to send you your rights back....please....with an undertone of legal action pending....
9. Receive a letter from the publisher granting you your rights back. Unbelievable!! Yay!!
10. Figure out how in the world to now convert that old book in your hand into Word -- scan it? Write it in because scanning sucks? Use Dragon-naturally speaking and talk it in? -- so that you can prepare it for HTML programming and then learn the next set of steps to self-publish.
11. Find wine and Skype or sit by yourself in a dark room and contemplate the meaning of life.
12. Open up Word and the book, and type in: Chapter One....
There is a second set of steps that follows this one on how to actually get your Word doc onto Amazon, B&N, Apple etc. sites in order to actually sell your book....more about that later....