For the last several weeks, authors have worked hard to amplify on social media with various hashtags new releases written by themselves and others during the widespread shutdown in response to the new coronavirus. Here’s another one: children’s author Padma Venkatraman is spearheading the official launch of #AuthorsTakeAction, a social media campaign that is designed to amplify authors’ books – and also save lives.

Venkatraman requests that her fellow authors post on social media using the hashtag #AuthorsTakeAction selfies featuring them holding up their books along with a message indicating that they are taking seriously the mandates to stay home and/or practice social distancing. While some authors are simply posting selfies of themselves wearing face masks and holding up their books, most are posting photos of their books with sticky notes attached containing messages and the hashtag urging readers to practice social distancing.

#AuthorsTakeAction was introduced on April 7 with a tweet of Venkatraman wearing a face mask. Within 18 hours of the campaign’s official launch two days later, the hashtag went viral as hundreds of other authors posted under the hashtag. Late Thursday afternoon, #AuthorsTakeAction was trending on Twitter, with 2,750 tweets by 5:30 pm ET.

In an open letter posted on her website, Venkatraman wrote that she was driven to take action after witnessing, while taking a walk on a Rhode Island beach, a group of teenagers shouting in a gleeful way while playing contact football, “Stay six feet away!”

At first, she felt powerless that social distance mandates were a joke to them, she wrote, but then she decided to do something about it—and bring other authors along with her.

“If we don’t act together, soon,” she wrote in the open letter, “the toll taken by COVID19 will only increase. Our readers are frustrated and looking for guidance from people they trust: celebrities, athletes, teachers, authors. Let’s use our platform to reach them with an important message: Take social distancing seriously. Save lives. Our emergency personnel need our support.”