"The reader collectively recognizes her plea to steer from self-pity mode, even though Lucy's story stirs the reader with compassion for the author."
Yes, this sentence is wordy and a bit recursive. You've got reader, Lucy, and author, two of which are implicit (reader and author), so I would focus on Lucy entirely. I don't know the story or context and a few of the pronouns are vague, but here goes:
1. First, I would get rid of "reader" and "author" and "collectively." We all know there's an author and readers. That's obligatory. Are readers all reading and recognizing her plea together? I don't think so. It's unnecessary.
2. "Her plea" needs an object or indirect object, or both. To steer what? Herself? Her emotions? Her thoughts? What is being steered?
3. Steering toward what? Compassion? Empathy? Sympathy?
4. Who's plea is it? Her own?
5. To whom is she plea-ing? The reader, the author, another character.
6. I don't like the last part of the sentence. It seems extra or redundant. I would omit it.
Now, we're left with something like this:
"Lucy's plea to [John in chapter 3?] helps steer her emotions from self-pity to compassion."
Much simpler and focused.