Welcome to Peter Caton books
Having been to the wilds of England. Scotland and Wales, a trip to Altnabreac on the Far North Line has completed my travels for Remote Stations.
In all I’ve visited 40 stations, most still with a train service, if not always very regular, and a few long closed. I’ve walked across moors, marshes, fens and enjoyed some of the most remote and wonderful scenery in Britain, sometimes on foot and often through the train window.
Both stations and trains have been of varied types and size and as I’ve researched each station many interesting tales have been unearthed.
Remote Stations will be published by Matador in summer 2018.
Altnabreac – Possibly our most remote station
When I wrote Stand Up Sit Down, examining the history and arguments for and against permitting standing at football matches, it was clear that overwhelming evidence backed supporters being allowed the choice to either sit or stand as they watch their teams. It was also clear, that whilst their arguments were weak, there was a reluctance in the various authorities to change the status quo.
Hillsborough was often quoted, but review and inquests have now found as I concluded, that the disaster was not caused by fans or by terraces, but by a failure to plan and manage the crowd. One by one the other arguments have been won, to a point that the media now struggle to find anyone to put the case against standing.
The term ‘safe standing’ is now commonly used but it’s easy to forget that there are still 19 clubs in the Championship, League One & League Two where each week fans stand safely on traditional terraces. Some like Burton & Morecambe (below) are modern terraces in new grounds, others such as Carlisle and Exeter are older stands but with modifications made to meet current safety standards. All are safe but whilst the ideal for many fans, they are not the answer everywhere.
UEFA regulations require all seated stadia for European matches (although of course thousands still stand in front of their seats), so those clubs with realistic ambitions to play in Europe need another solution. Convertible ‘rail seats’, with a seat that can be locked down for ‘all seater’ matches and up for other games, are commonly used in Germany. They meet UEFA regulations and with each row having a rail in front it’s hard to make any reasonable argument that they are not safe. Indeed they are safer than the widespread standing in front of seats that we see at every Premier League match. If we are to see a reintroduction of standing areas in the top leagues it will be with rail seating.
Celtic have lead the way. The Football Spectators Act does not apply in Scotland and last year 3,000 rail seats were installed at Parkhead. They’ve been a huge success – much sought after by fans of all ages, producing a tremendous atmosphere and with no safety related incidents. The Local Authority and Stadium Safety Officer are very happy with them.
The next stage is a trial in England or Wales but options are limited as current regulations forbid clubs who since the 1990s have played for more than three years in the top two divisions, from having any standing areas.
On a very wet day in February 2014 I attended the unveiling of a small block of rail seats at Bristol City, but regulations permitted their use only for rugby matches. Rugby fans can stand but the football fans have to sit.
We have now reached the next important stage. Shrewsbury Town don’t fall under the all seater ruling and have agreed to take out an area of seats and convert them to safe standing. The benefits however will go far beyond Shrewsbury fans. A successful trial at the New Meadow could open the way to standing areas being introduced around the country.
We know many clubs who want to install standing but first the government has to relax the all seater regulations. If enough money can be raised for a successful trial at Shrewsbury it will be a big step towards persuading the government. Fans across the country are contributing to raise £75,000 by crowdfunding. https://www.tifosy.com/en/campaigns/support-the-campaign-to-install-england-s-first-safe-standing-area.
The mood is changing in favour of the choice to stand and all contributions will help achieve the first trial in England and move the campaign forward. Please consider making a donation – it might be your club who is next to offer the choice to stand.
I have almost finished my travels for my next book – Remote Stations. There are just two more trips to complete forty remote stations around England, Wales and Scotland, but by the time the book is published next year one of these may have gone. Network Rail have applied to close Breich on the ‘Shotts Line’ from Glasgow to Edinburgh. If they succeed this will be the first station to close in Scotland since Balloch Pier in 1986. More worryingly, if they succeed in closing Breich will Network Rail seek to shut more of our lesser used stations around the country?
At first sight it seems hard to argue that the £1.3 million Network Rail say it would cost to retain justifies the 150 or so passengers a year, however on closer investigation there is more to it. Their case for closure is that the cost of work on the station and replacement of the footbridge which are required due to electrification, is not justified by the small number of passengers using the station. It’s not surprising that few passengers use Breich – only one train in each direction stops here.
Network Rail have not considered the potential for increased usage if more trains stopped, if parking facilities were provided and if proposed housing developments nearby go ahead. Nor do they appear to have considered building a path from the east-bound platform to the A706, so negating the need for a footbridge. Closure of Breich station was not included in the electrification plan for which the budget would have included funds for the required work. The proposed closure is an opportunistic attempt at cost saving and has not considered all options, so permission should not be granted. Railways should be to provide a service, not for profit.
With the support of Geoff Marshall from ‘All the Stations’ I’ve started a petition to save Breich station. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-breich-station
I’ve also submitted a full ’objection’ to the consultation process. For anyone who may wish to consider doing the same details are here. > https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/scotland/
In 2017 we should not be shutting railway stations – Save Breich!!!!!!
Most of us wouldn’t just drop something on the ground – littering is anti-social and an offence. But how many people let go of a balloon, watch it float away into the sky and not give a second thought as to where it will end up.
It might be on land or it might be in the sea, but either way it will be a hazard to wildlife. It could be eaten and block a creature’s digestive system, causing it to starve. The ribbon might get wrapped around a bird’s neck, trapping or strangling it; a slow and sad death. Turtles are particularly at risk as they mistake them for jelly fish and swallow them, but even whales have been found dead after ingesting balloons.
Someone enjoyed a MacDonald’s Happy Meal. Their balloon ended up by the sea at Lee-over-Sands near Clacton. It wouldn’t have been such a happy meal for any creature that ate it.
This party balloon landed by the River Thames. Had I not taken it home it might have been blown into the water and carried out to sea. A turtle could have thought it was a tasty jelly fish. It could have been the turtle’s final meal.
This one was on the sea wall between Peter-on-the-Wall and Burnham-on-Crouch, possibly the most remote stretch of coastline in England – there are no houses for 14 miles of coast but falling balloons litter our most pristine places.
Some balloons are described as biodegradable latex. Biodegradable is a vague term. Yes natural rubber will break down but it may take many years. Don’t fall for the marketing that suggests these are safe.
I’m all for supporting England but not with a balloon that lands on a nature reserve – here at RSPB Rainham Marshes.
But please don’t use Chinese lanterns instead – not only are they litter – they are fire too. Fires have been started animals burned by falling lanterns.
UPMINSTER HUSTINGS 1ST JUNE 2017
I hope that when people cast their votes they will look beyond simply which party will give them the greatest personal financial wealth.
I hope that people will consider our whole society and that those of us who are comfortably off will think of the needs of others when we vote.
We need a government that will care about everyone and an acceptance of the reality that to provide the services we want, in one way or another more taxes will have to be paid.
The Green Party offers a vision for a caring, fair and compassionate society.
I hope that people will look ahead to the world that we bequeath to our children and grandchildren.
Do we want them to be seeing film of the Great Barrier Reef, of Pacific islands, of glaciers, of whales and tigers, and ask why people didn’t do enough to save them?
Do we want them to learn of the great conflicts that came from people migrating from lands that climate change had turned into uninhabitable desert?
To be told that people were unwilling to save our resources for future generations, or to accept changes in lifestyle to help stop our climate changing.
We only have one planet. There is no spare to replace it if we ruin this one.
It is our duty to care for the earth and I hope that as you decide you to vote people will consider the world and ALL who live on it now and in the future.
Every vote for the Green Party is a vote for social justice and for the environment.
I am standing as the Green Party candidate for the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency. Here is some background about me and some of the policies that I would pursue if elected.
A lifelong Upminster resident and a former Coopers Coborn student, I am aged 56, married with two children. I belong to many environmental organisations, am a member of Upminster Methodist Church where I was a youth club leader for many years, and a West Ham season ticket holder. I run a company manufacturing water-based adhesives in Purfleet and am a part-time author, having written six books, mainly about walking and travel, two of which describe walks on the Essex coast.
I am standing for the Green Party because I believe that protecting our planet, its people and wildlife is the most important issue that mankind faces, and because I believe that we need a society and economy that are fair to everyone.
These are some of the policies that I feel strongly about and would support if elected.
Here is my profile on the Green Party website – https://my.greenparty.org.uk/candidates/106005
In our constituency we are fortunate to have precious Green Belt and other green spaces. These must be protected against pressures to develop.
Rates and rents for small business and shops need to be more affordable, to increase local employment and reduce the need for people to travel to their places of work and to shop.
Many young and lower paid people struggle to find housing here. Over the last few years we have seen infill housing built, but very little has been affordable social housing. Small homes are needed to house local people, not expensive ones to make money for developers.
I would push for improved bus services, particularly serving Queens Hospital. Parking and public transport need to encourage people to shop locally rather than drive to out of town centres. For the sake of our health, particularly our children and elderly people, air pollution must be reduced.
If elected I would seek an immediate review of the Government’s decision to select Option C for a new Lower Thames Crossing, which will result in loss of Green Belt land and people’s homes but will be of questionable effectiveness in relieving both congestion and air pollution. A review must ensure that all factors are fully considered, including switching of freight to rail and improved road layouts and traffic management either side of the existing crossing. It needs to be based on up to date traffic data and include Option A14, a tunnel from junction 30, and traffic management schemes that may alleviate the need for a new crossing, neither of which were put to the public in the recent consultation.
What can be more important than looking after the planet on which we live? We are stewards of the earth and it is our duty to protect it for our children and future generations. Unless climate change is slowed it will have a huge impact on the future for the people and creatures who share our world. Mankind cannot continue to ravage the world’s finite resources, pollute the earth and change its climate. We are even killing the Great Barrier Reef.
The Green Party will not hide from the challenges we face. Britain must take the lead not lag behind other countries. We must reduce our energy consumption and invest in renewable energy, phasing out fossil fuels.
Locally and nationally we need to make changes that will reduce road traffic and congestion, not by building more roads but by far wider measures to cut road usage. Affordable, reliable public transport must be provided. Public transport needs to be run as a service, not for profit. Wherever possible freight should travel by rail or water, not road or air.
There should be more electrification of our railways but no new airport runways. We need to move to the normal mode for ‘short haul’ travel being by train, not environmentally damaging planes.
Over time our society will need to change so the need to travel is reduced.
Everyone has a right to a roof over their head. It is scandalous that in 21st century Britain thousands sleep on the streets every night. Homelessness is no longer restricted to big cities; we see it in Hornchurch & Upminster.
Single room hostels with shared facilities and support would take people off the streets and save the NHS & policing costs associated with homelessness.
We need rent controls and a Landlord Licensing Scheme to ensure that every landlord adheres to minimum standards. We should build far more low cost Council Housing, which will have the additional benefit of bringing down private rents, and must ensure that a higher proportion of new private housing developments are ‘affordable’. The Green Party would build 500,000 socially rented homes.
I believe that our country’s wealth should be shared more equally and that we should re-introduce higher tax bands for the biggest earners.
I support the Green Party’s proposals for a Citizens’ Income for everyone, which would replace personal tax allowances and prevent the current unemployment and poverty traps
Corporation Tax should be raised, with higher rates for larger companies, but Employers’ National Insurance abolished (it is a tax on employment). We should work with other countries to close the loopholes that allow companies to avoid UK tax on operations here. A Financial Transaction Tax (‘Robin Hood Tax’) would raise £8 billion.
I believe that we need greater support for science & technology, both in education and commerce. Innovation is the key to developing new clean industries.
I would cancel the replacement of Trident, a nuclear weapon that could never be used, and spend the £31 billion plus saving on the NHS and education.
We are very fortunate to live in a wealthy country and although there are many needs here, millions of people in other places struggle even to find enough food to live.
Commendably David Cameron’ s government enshrined in law 0.7% of national budget for overseas aid but this is now at risk. Aid needs to be targeted to ensure the short, medium and long term welfare of people, but as one of the world’s richest countries I believe that we have a moral duty to support those who are not so fortunate.
Britain has a proud history of welcoming people forced to flee war and persecution and helping them rebuild their lives. Whilst immigration cannot be uncontrolled, I believe that we should offer sanctuary to a reasonable number of genuine refugees.
The animals we farm for food should be treated with respect in their life and slaughter. Factory farming should be phased out, transport to slaughter minimised and routine use of antibiotics stopped.
I strongly oppose blood sports and believe that there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for lifting the fox hunting ban. If rural foxes do need to be controlled it can be done humanely. 21st century Britain should not be legalising the killing of animals for people’s enjoyment
I would increase penalties for those who wilfully harm or neglect animals, to act as a deterrent against animal cruelty.
This election should be about far more than just Brexit, but I support allowing the people to have the final say on EU membership, with a ratification referendum based on the best deal which our government can negotiate. We need to know that it is ‘the will of the people’ to leave the EU under this deal.
In running a manufacturing business I am already seeing some of the downsides of Brexit and that losing access to the Single Market will have a far greater impact.
As a longstanding member of the Football Supporters’ Federation Safe Standing Group and having written a book investigating the subject, I would scrap the requirement for football stadia in the Premier League and Championship to be all seated, permitting safe standing which would improve safety and is backed by 90% of football supporters.
I firmly believe that we need a fairer electoral system so that the make-up of parliament more accurately reflects the share of the votes cast. We need government to be by consensus and to move away from the system that allows a party to be elected by a minority of the electorate but to be able to govern virtually unopposed for five years.
However, I believe that no vote is wasted and that every vote the Green Party receives is important as a demonstration of concern for our environment and for social justice.
I believe that I am the best candidate to truly represent the local needs of the people of the Hornchurch & Upminster constituency, and that the Green Party would allow me to put my constituents first rather than being constrained by having to follow strict party lines.
Thank you for reading this and considering voting for me. If you want to know more about Green Party policies please visit www.greenparty.org.uk.
I am giving an illustrated talk on ‘Walking the Essex coast’ at the historic Nottage Institute, Wivenhoe Quay on Thursday 4th May (7.30pm).
Tickets £4.00 (including glass of wine) from www.wivenhoebooks.com.
Copies of all my books will be available to purchase.
I am pleased to report that I have been selected to represent the Green Party as General Election candidate in the Hornchurch & Upminster parliamentary constituency.
A lifelong Upminster resident, I am aged 56, married with two children. I belong to many environmental organisations, am a member of Upminster Methodist Church and a West Ham season ticket holder. I run a company manufacturing water-based adhesives in Purfleet and am a part-time author, having written six books, mainly about walking and travel, two of which describe walks on the Essex coast.
I am standing for the Green Party because I believe that protecting our planet, its people and wildlife is the most important issue that mankind faces, and because I believe that we need a society and economy that are fair to everyone.
I am a firm believer in all forms of equality, improving public transport, supporting local shops and small businesses, support for science & technology, dealing effectively with the increasing problems of homelessness and preventing cruelty to animals.
This election should be about far more than just Brexit, but I support allowing the people to have the final say on EU membership, with a ratification referendum based on the best deal which our government can negotiate.
Locally I would push for improved bus services, a more effective and less damaging alternative to Thames Crossing Option C, reduced business rates to help local shops, protection of our precious Green Belt and for more social housing.
I believe that no vote is wasted and that every vote the Green Party receives is important as a demonstration of concern for our environment and for social justice.
I’m often asked how much it costs to publish a book, so thought a brief summary on my blog might be helpful.
All my books have been self-published through Matador, who in general terms offer the same services as a traditional publisher but with two crucial differences.
Firstly, it is the author’s book, so whilst Matador will make recommendations it is the author who largely has the final say in edit and design. Secondly, it is the author who takes the financial risk, paying upfront for all production, printing and marketing costs, plus 15% on each sale through the normal book distribution system.
Matador produce an excellent book and are lovely people to work with. Beware some other companies who may be cheaper but often don’t deliver the profitable sales they promise. Matador offer a range of marketing services and it is necessary to take the most basic of these in order to gain entry into the trade market. My experience is that whilst they can open certain doors, it is the author’s efforts in gaining publicity and persuading shops to stock the book which has a greater impact on sales. The hard work is not done once a book has been written!
There is no simple answer to “How much does it cost to publish a book?” It depends on the type of book, how much (if any) is in colour, what extra services are required and the number of copies printed.
Essex Coast Walk has only black & white photos, so was cheapest of my six books to print. The next four books have colour photo sections which add to the cost and 50 Walks on the Essex Coast is in full colour. After realising with Essex Coast Walk that no matter how many times the author, friends and family read a book, errors will slip through (but were corrected in the reprints), I now always pay for a proof read. I don’t pay for an edit and take only the basic marketing package. Judging the print run is difficult but costs come down considerably with quantity, however one doesn’t want to be left with mountain of unsold copies.
A summary of production costs for 50 Walks on the Essex Coast, my most recent book, is as follows:
Pre-Press Costs (typesetting etc.) 700
Trade Marketing & Mailing 460
Proof Read 288
Maps (not Matador) 1500
Print 1500 copies 3219
Based on the print run of 1500 (it’s looking as if I should have gone for more) this works out at £4.17 / copy.
With a selling price of £9.99 at first glance this looks to give a handsome profit but the next lesson for the self-published author is that they have to share the profit. Shops expect a discount of 40 – 55%, Amazon take 60% and Matador 15% to service the sales. It comes as a bit of a shock to find that a book that sells for £9.99 on Amazon nets only £2.50 to the author, which may be less than the production cost. I try to encourage people to buy from book shops (I have an arrangement Swan Books with my local independent to offer free p&p for which I further discount their price) but many will use Amazon. Even if these sales make little profit they are contributing to the total sales and without them the print run would be lower and unit cost higher. An alternative would be to try to push sales through Matador’s website, for which the author gets 85% of the selling price.
Profit is greater on books sold by the author but they need somewhere to keep them. I’m fortunate that my company has a warehouse where pallets of books can be stored. Some authors choose to take the whole print run from Matador and sell the books themselves, rather than the publisher supplying the retail trade and Amazon. Sales are then likely to be lower but the margin higher. The best profit comes from books sold directly to the customer; to friends, family and at talks or book fairs.
I’ve estimated a sales breakdown for 50 Walks on the Essex Coast which shows how the income varies widely according to the sales route. Estimating this breakdown is crucial when considering the finances of a book – including the selling price.
Income Estimated % of sales
Author sales to Customer 9.99 10
Author sales to Retailer (average) 5.00 50
Matador Website 8.50 0
Matador sales to Amazon etc. 2.50 30
Matador sales to Waterstones etc. 3.00 10
Matador sales to Independent Bookshop 4.00 10
This breakdown gives an average income of £4.95 / copy. Based on these estimates 1264 copies will need to be sold to break even and selling all 1500 will give a profit of £1168 (which would most probably go towards a reprint). Note that for a local book it is much easier for the author to supply retailers than one which sells nationally.
At 190 pages 50 Walks on the Essex Coast is shorter than my other books, but being in full colour and with a map for each walk, production costs are higher. A similar book but without maps would need to sell 961 copies to break even. A summary of costs and income on some of my other books gives further insight into the variability of self-publishing finance.
Essex Coast Walk No Boat Required The Next Station Stop
Production Cost 2.21 2.83 2.52
Copies Printed 4000 2000 2000
Selling Price 9.99 12.99 9.99
Author Sold 6.31 7.94 6.09
Matador Sold 2.62 3.66 2.74
Author % 34 23 21
Matador % 66 77 79
Average Income 3.87 4.64 3.44
Copies to Break Even 1574 1220 1465
Note that for Essex Coast Walk 1000 were printed, followed by another 2000 then another 1000 and that had these all been printed together the unit price would have been lower. It would have been more profitable to have printed 4000 in one go but of course only if they sold. I printed too few Essex Coast Walk, probably too many Stand Up Sit Down but think I’ve judged the others about right.
It should be born in mind that there will also be additional unforeseen costs such as storage and delivery. Matador charge £30 per month for storage of more than 300 books (of each title) so this can quickly eat into profits.
Finally, I should mention selling price. Other than No Boat Required, which is the longest of my books, I have priced all at £9.99. They seem to be considered good value at this price and whilst I could have charged more, my view has been that it is a threshold price above which buyers are less likely to make spur of the moment purchases. I would prefer more sales at lower margin, particularly as I now have six books published and readers of one very often go on to buy others.
So in summary the key factors are:
Production Costs – be aware of all the costs and for example that you may need to sell another 100 books to cover an extra £300 cost.
Print Run – It’s hard to judge but crucial to whether the book makes a profit or loss.
Selling Price – Find the balance between what will sell and what will make a profit.
Sales Route – Be aware of the percentage of cover price the author will get and where possible try to direct sales to the most profitable routes.
And my final advice, writing and self-publishing a book is very rewarding, but don’t expect to make any money!
As anyone who has read my books will know, I enjoy finding remote places, travelling by train and walking. My next book combines the first two and includes some varied walks, as I travel around the UK seeking out our most remote railway stations.
Currently I’m about halfway through journeys which will cover 40 stations, a few closed but most where trains still call, if not always very often! I’ve travelled to the wilds of Scotland, including staying at a settlement that consists of just a railway station, two houses and a hotel where deer looked in the window as we ate breakfast, to lonely stations in the north of England amongst hills and beside the sea and have walked to long closed halts on Dartmoor and in East Anglia. Next on the list is the Heart of Wales Line, with its many remote stations to choose from.
I am including some of the remarkable stories and interesting history associated with the stations and the routes serving them, giving the book a strong railway theme but also appealing to those with a general travel interest.
Remote Stations will be published some time in 2018.