Unusual times, unusual measures. I don’t usually blog more than once a month, but an idea popped into my head that I can’t get rid of.
Last week, I heard from a parent and then a teacher, both of whom were speaking about how hard it is for young people to stay home. Yesterday, when I was taking a walk on a beach, I saw a group of teens playing contact football. They were crying “Stay 6 feet away!” as though it were a joke.
What if authors were to take action on social media, using a simple hashtag, #AuthorsTakeAction, to show that we’re taking this pandemic seriously? What if we were to do something quick and simple – just take photographs of ourselves wearing home-made PPE, or create a quick video message?
So I reached out to a few author friends: Aida Salazar, Sarah Aronson, and Alison Green Myers. Aida Salazar came up with the brilliant suggestion that we might also put sticky notes on our books, with the hashtag and a simple note?
Sarah’s suggestion was that I write this open letter to the community right away, even as I am just thinking of this idea and working with friends to help develop it. Alison Green Myers suggested some other pithy messages that authors could add via video or a caption:“Stay safe. Read Books. Save Lives.” Or “The safety of others is in your hands.” Or “Show Your Love, Keep Your Distance.” and other hashtags we might also add: #TakeShelterInStory #ShelterInPlace #socialdistancing and #thankyoufirstresponders.
We’re launching a hashtag campaign #AuthorsTakeAction on Thursday, April 9th to show our readers that we stand together by being apart.
Why? Because if we don’t act together, soon, 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.
What do you need to do? Take a copy of one of your books and put a sticky note on it with hashtag #AuthorsTakeAction. Snap a selfie with the book and post-it. Provide a short message that might read/say: “Stay in Place. Read Books. Stay Safe.” Or “Hold books in your hands. Hold people in your heart.” Or “Show Your Love, Keep Your Distance.” Or “Get close to book characters. Stay 6 ft away from strangers.” Or something from your own heart to encourage our readers to take social distancing seriously and stay healthy.
On Thursday, April 9th, to help us boost your signal, here are our handles, in case you wish to follow us on Twitter:
@padmatv (Padma Venkatraman), @sarah_aronson (Sarah Aronson), @MimaWrites (Aida Salazar), alisongmyers (Alison Green Myers), @ellyswartz (Elly Swartz), @victoriajcoe (Victoria Coe), @laurashovan (Laura Shovan), @leslieconnor29 (Leslie Connor), @christebbetts (Chris Tebbetts), @Miranda_Paul (Miranda Paul), @meganhoytwrites (Megan Hoyt)
and on IG:
@venkatraman.padma (Padma Venkatraman), @sarahnaronson (Sarah Aronson) and @aida_writes (Aida Salazar), @alisongreenmyers (Alison Green Myers), @ellyswartzbooks (Elly Swartz), @victoriajcoe (Victoria Coe), @laurashovan (Laura Shovan), @heyleslieconnor (Leslie Connor), @christebbetts (Chris Tebbetts), @MirandaPaulBooks (Miranda Paul), @meganhoytwrites (Megan Hoyt)
We’d also love for you to spread the word by forwarding this email to other friends and tagging them on Thursday. Won’t you take two minutes to help spread the message that social distancing is important?
As you can see from the letter, our “little army” as Aida calls it, has grown, to include other amazing authors: Elly Swartz, Victoria Coe, Leslie Connor, Laura Shovan, Chris Tebbetts, Miranda Paul, Megan Hoyt. If you are truly interested in helping us spread the word (by emailing others) and committed to boosting other people’s messages on Thursday, please feel free to add your name and social media handles to the letter when you share it and just let me know, so I can update this blog accordingly (though probably not immediately). Everyone is welcome to join in. This is my invitation to you all. I started this project, but it would be nowhere without the support of friends. I want everyone in our community to feel included and embraced. Please just remember, our message is not about selling books, it’s about trying to save lives in our small way.
If you are an illustrator, you are obviously totally geared to doing this the best possible way visually. And if you a “pre-published” author as Laurie Halse Anderson called it years ago, you are of course welcome to participate. Just post the sign on your manuscript or work-in-progress! No hierarchies here. This is about something larger than all of us that we need to unite to fight.
I truly hope our community of caring authors will coalesce around this cause – beginning here on this page, beginning in our kid lit community, but inclusive of all authors everywhere, urging us to come together in solidarity and send this simple message to our readers of all ages, to parents, to teachers, to the world. The sooner we all take steps to show we care, the sooner this will pass. There’s a time for everything – and right now, it’s time to act socially responsible by staying physically distant. It’s not about me or you – it’s about us.
So if you’re reading this post and you’re an author – please consider taking a moment to act and spread the word. Hope to see you #AuthorsTakeAction on twitter (@padmatv) and ig (venkatraman.padma) this Thursday, 8 April. Thanks. Stay safe, stay well and stay patient. Sending sincerest and best wishes,