Also, I had been through critique workshops, I had been through agent rejections, etc, but the hardest lesson was taught to me by my first novel.
It was multiPOV, and there was that major a-hat character whose purpose was to die to start another character's backstory. Well, apparently, he was a divisive one. 50% hated his guts, guessed he was going to die and couldn't wait till he dies. 50% loved every word out of his mouth.
I had been through thick and thin with that basically side-character, followed all kinds of advice.
I gave him extra chapters, because someone said, 'hey, he dies and we can't really get attached to him, it is sort of empty'
Guess what? They opened the novel, so now people who attached to him got attached to him even more, so some walked out on the book when he died.
I looked at my outline, trying to see if I can keep him alive and transfer the whole role to him. But he couldn't. His background, empty-headedness and arrogance was all wrong for the part.
Finally, I did a small twist in the end, that honored him a little bit, making his father to acknowledge his murderer as him.
Overall though, you can steer the emotions a little, but you can't do it obviously, or you will start getting dead, preachy text instead of a book, and sometimes when you've sparked the emotional response, you can do nothing but smile sheepishly in the, What have I done? manner.