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Cover of the Rolling Stone

At my “premier” event where I debuted my “TED Talk” in front of a full crowd at our local state college, during the Q and A, one woman asked, “Jackie, can you explain your cover?”


It also happened during some of the media I did that summer during Unwillable’s launch, but this was definitely a time I remember giving an in-depth explanation of the cover art. I can also picture a lot of people who suddenly had a copy in hand and flipped it around to study it, front and back.


I also remember a lot of nods along and “ahhhs” as I explained the significance. The color. The nuance. The symbolism. The dreams and fears it represented. The throwback to my confusion and horror.


Quite a few times, I received the feedback of, “Holy shit, after you read the book and then really look at the cover, it’s so powerful.” (OK, maybe not an exact quote, but close.) (You can watch this video to hear something similar.)


The cover was the brainchild of … I kind of think Sean. I believe he had a lot of the beginning ideas. Or maybe it was me. At this point, I can’t really remember. I know we both felt strongly that the cover should be depicted in Room 303, the last courtroom I was in only a few days before I exited practice and nearly, life. I remember wanting a photo of the back of my head at counsel table, or just a nameplate with my name, and an empty chair.


From there, we progressed to the cover being a trip (coincidentally, so is AE!). I loved the idea of my bff, Lacie’s, watercolor over photography to add in the purple (that I often spoke of, per my mom) and the green (where I said my phone was shorting out and Sean took it away from me).


Over at least a year or two, Sean, Lacie, and I beat a dead horse into the ground to conceptualize and finalize what became Unwillable’s cover. (Talk about a friend, it’s enough she held my hand a lot and babysat me during onset, but then she had to traumatically listen to me explain my dreams, hallucinations, and paranoia, based upon lucid moments and my amnesia, and try to depict it.) Lacie was never paid enough, but she got the job done and my brainchild came to fruition.


If anything, I believed I’d keep it as art and my publisher would probably change it. But I felt strongly in being able to try. I also realized that just like titles are really hard to pinpoint and I’m not good with pinpointing titles, choosing and creating a book cover is super hard. And I’ve washed my hands of my thoughts on the concept, because I’m bad at book covers. (Thank God for creative teams!)

I’ve also learned that book covers are a lot like opinions which are a lot like ____. Everyone’s got one.


The idea quietly started last year. Then it got a bit noisier. My publisher wanted a new cover. Then suddenly, it was time for Unwillable to undergo a metamorphosis, but an exciting one. I hesitated at first, because the initial cover process felt daunting. But once I embraced the moment – a new time for the book to shine in a second edition – I got to work.

Unwillable is going to relaunch! And if all goes according to plan (I just quoted Seth Godin on my Instagram today, “Control is elusive.” I hedge bets these days.) the relaunch will happen on May the 4th be with you – the day Unwillable came into its being in 2022!


The Cover Redux process was fun. A little overwhelming and I pulled my hair out a lot, but mostly positive creative energy.


Just as I collaborated on the title and subtitle, the new cover was a collaboration of ideas, feelings, colors, fonts, and some homework from Unwillable reviews. I have continually heard use of the words, Inspiration; Resilient; Strong Woman; Shocked; Horrified; Endure. And next to stars, I repeatedly read the words, Inspired; Hopeful; Honest; Courage. Unwillable is the dichotomy of heartbreaking and heartwarming. Hopeless and hopeful. With all that in mind, we hit the ground running. And I’m so terribly thrilled with the final product. I can’t wait for it to come into its second being!


I’m proud of the current cover. It’s deeply meaningful and represents a significant time of my life (both in the onset of AE and Unwillable’s publication). And I’m so grateful to Lacie, Sean, and the others who aided me in getting it just right. But book covers, like life, like good music … to everything, turn turn turn. The time has come for Unwillable’s pivot. Maybe mine, too. Time will tell.


Turn turn turn.


Again, I’ve learned that book covers are like opinions which are like ____ and everyone has one, but overall, I think JM Stebbins fans are going to be as excited as I am about the upcoming cover.

If I can say so myself, we’ve captured Unwillable’s zeitgeist.

 Stay tuned.


And thanks for all the love. ~ Jackie


"Now it’s all designed to blow our minds

But our minds won’t really be blown

Like the blow that’ll getcha

When you get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone

"wanna see our pictures on the cover

(Stone) wanna buy five copies for our mothers (yeah!)

(Stone) wanna see my smiling face

On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Cover of the Rolling Stone" ~ by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show

*Our home is filled with Lacie's amazing artwork, which you can purchase HERE.


/ / The JM Stebbins blog is an autoimmune encephalitis blog by former lawyer and autoimmune encephalitis survivor, Jackie M. Stebbins.

Jackie M. Stebbins is also the author of Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim my Brain, a book about autoimmune encephalitis, resilience, hope, and survival. / /


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