Once I'd finally finished the first cut of my book, I figured I was just about done. I mean, after all, I'd done a lot of editing as I was writing. I'm a little anal that way (actually, I'm a lot anal that way) and I can't really pick up where I left off without going back and re-reading and re-editing stuff I've already written.
So, by the time I got to the end the first time, I'd already done a lot of editing.
I figured I was nearly done. Practically finished.
(This is where you should shake your head back and forth with a knowing look while thinking, "That poor, poor boy. He really has no clue, does he?")
Over the course of the next 14 months, depending on how you count them, I did at least 8 full edits. That is, front to back, full printout, read the whole thing, mark it up like I've got stock in companies that manufacture red ink. The whole lot.
And, then fully update the book and make the changes, and rearrange the text, and add the new ideas, and re-write or delete whole sections. Heck, between the time the e-books were first made available and the paperback came out (the matter of a week or so), I did yet another full edit and deleted two whole chapters.
Somewhere in there, very late in the process, I even had a good friend who is even more anal about these things than I am do a slow and thoughtful edit of the thing.
What I know from all of that is I could probably edit it ten more times. I could probably edit it forever. But, at some point, you have to just pull the trigger. It is what it is.
At least, until the next revision...
What I learned along the way was that you can't do too much editing. Well, okay, if you do nothing but edit forever and never publish the darned thing, that's probably too much. But, at least in my case, every edit made it better. Whether that was smoother or easier to read or less boring or more descriptive or...whatever it was I was trying to fix, more editing made it better.
The story now is, according to Word, 106,418 words. My original version was a little over 105,000 words. What's not obvious from those numbers is the difference between the two versions. I've probably deleted a dozen chapters and have absolutely ransacked a dozen more. But I've also added more detail, more texture, more of the things that make it a better story. So, editing gives and it takes, both. It's weird that the final numbers ended up so close together.
The differences between that first version and the current version are pretty extreme. This one's a much faster, easier read and, while it's got plenty of detail, the original version had too much detail about things that didn't really matter. That's all gone now.
So, like it or not, if you're going to try to do this, a lot of editing is in your future, but the result will be better for the effort.