...that is the question. Having received most of my reader reports now, I have started to analyse what they had to say about my novel, The Crosser of the Worlds. The first thing I've learned is that different people interpret questions differently! To some a "favourite character" is the one they liked most, to others it is the one they thought written the best. To some the lowest point for the main character, Kit, is when he is acting most stupidly, to others it is the point where they felt most sympathy for him. But these different interpretations have actually been really helpful as they have highlighted things which I might never have noticed.
Perhaps my biggest revelation is that it is always worth getting more than one or two people to read your drafts! This helps weed out personal taste from actual issues that need addressing. One reader found the young girl in the book a bit irritating, but she was the favourite character of two of my readers. At least one reader didn't particular like the swashbuckling sword-fighters on one of my worlds, again, another absolutely loved them. Some readers focussed on the practical ("how could a deep wound have healed enough to have formed a scar in only two weeks?"), others were more emotional ("it brought actual tears to my eyes"). One small scene that one reader wanted me to change back to how it was written in the original draft, was the one scene that another reader (who had also read the original draft) didn't want me to touch at all.
You might think that all this would make editing a bit of a nightmare. But actually, this way I get the best of both worlds: I won't end up changing something that doesn't need changing just because it happens to not be to the taste of one person, but also I know that if two or more people mention the same thing then it really is an issue I can't sweep under the carpet. Every reader so far has caused me to add something to my list of potential edits and every one has also mentioned something different that they liked about the book that gives me the confidence to carry on with it. Sure, I could be hurt that my favourite character is nobody else's, but actually it's great that nearly every "goody" is somebody's favourite as it means I must have got something right about them!
So I now have before me an ever-growing list of edits to make before I send this draft off to the Writer's Workshop for some professional advice. But, having made six other people read the book in the last month, the first thing I should probably do is read it myself...