Kindleboards a lot lately, almost exclusively on the Writer's Cafe subsection (which is the busiest section as far as I can tell).
One of the users there, WHDean, made a post asking for help marketing a book cover towards women. He also posted some of his thoughts and assumptions regarding this process, a couple of which were... poorly received by female readers.
His whole post can be found here: http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,111152.0.html
In short he asserted that women didn't want to see "female body parts" without corresponding male nakedness, that "maps, runes, circuit boards, geometrical figures" were all verboten, along with "SF motifs" such as aliens or spaceships because "women reading SF is far from the norm". Huh.
Most puzzling, though, was his assertion that "I think it goes without saying that anything usually associated exclusively with males is out. I include chessboards here (Sorry Julie!) along with other sporting and technical objects." (emphasis mine).
Obviously, the Internet fell upon this thread like a pack of sharks and more than a few harsh words were exchanged before the thread was eventually locked.
However, the thread did give me pause for thought. I've never written (or marketed) directly to either gender; I tend to think that there's just so much variation in what people of any gender (or sexual preference, etc) like that it's just hopeless. The best solution, I've found, is to write the best book you can irrespective of what you think anyone else will think of it and let your readers decide.
But... that said, maybe that guy's cover tips had some merits. Accordingly, I present this...
Lacuna: Demons of the Void (Female Edition).
(a) Female skin. Check. I covered Liao's face with a mask. I wanted a Burqua but I just couldn't swing it. Sorry. That said, an ugly troll face should help prevent uncontrollable surges of envy from female readers so I think it's a good choice.
(b) Abstractions. I don't have any abstractions in my original cover, so I guess I get a huge tick for this one already!
(c) SF motifs. I wasn't sure removing the entire planet was necessary (please advise) but I did remove the spaceship and replaced it with something more appropriate. Not sure if unicorns are passée however.
(d) Typically male things. I don't use chessboards or sporty things, but there IS a construction crane on my cover. I left it in for now since IRL my mother runs a construction company, so I personally see it as kinda gender neutral. Please advise.
(e) Graphic violence. I added a few pink bows and hearts to try and lighten the scene up a bit. I hope I've done enough.
(f) Added some kittens. Chicks dig kittens.
(g) The sailor's grey uniform jacket was just so un-fabulous I had to razzle-dazzle it up. Now he sparkles like he means it.
I've got a good feeling about this edition, even though it'll take significant rewrites. Here's a sample extract:
Liao gasped. "Like, ohmigod... aliens!"
Saeed snapped his fingers back and forth. "Oh you did NOT do that, girlfriend!"
"I baked a cake," offered James, "now let us spend eighteen paragraphs describing my impossibly muscled chest."
"Tee hee, let's!"
Four hours later...
"So like, we invited those meanie poo poo bum bum head aliens over for dinner and they were like, omigosh, let's be best friends!"
Everyone cheered and it was the best day ever!