Knowing when a book is finished
Time and time again, I've talked with author friends, and we all agree on one thing. In our minds, a book is never finished. We can never go back and read our books once we've released it to the public, because no matter what, we will find something that we can add or change. It's an inevitable cycle.
So the question is, when is a book really finished?
The answer: it's not.
As I said before, it doesn't matter how many times you go back through your manuscript, you will ALWAYS find thing to change or fix. Our lives change daily. Each day brings new experiences, new perspectives, new ideas, growth, and possibility. We evolve (and no, I'm not talking about the ape/human correlation). It's because of our personal growth that we see changes in our work. We want our characters to evolve with us.
So, you ask, if this is the case, how does an author ever finish a book? It's simple really. That's what deadlines are for. It forces us to push our story out of the nest to see if it can fly. It makes us trust in our abilities, our characters, and inevitably, ourselves. Besides, every storyteller has another story in them to tell. If we can't let go of the one, it's impossible to start the next.
Plus, there's always the editing phase, and let me tell you, by the time an author is done with editing, they're happy to let the book go. We polish our books until there's little to no errors in them. We work closely with our editors, publishers, etc., to ensure our readers get the best possible story we have to offer. While editing, our innate human desire is to strive for perfection, but the best rule of thumb is to forget about perfection. Perfection is a pipedream. Instead, strive for satisfaction then release it out into the world. After that...you're free to move on to your next book - your next adventure.