Take the Stephen King 10% rule: 2nd draft=1st draft minus 10%.
Then after that, let the people in your writers' group take a look at it. Remember, thick skin is necessary for every writer.
“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” ~ Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1914)
Then after your writers' group have had their say, look for help from a professional editor. Most editors have great deals. Some will do the first chapter for free, or anywhere from $3 - $6 a page for the first 150 pages. Look around, do the research, and you'll find good editors who will help you polish your book.
1. Be part of a writers group
2. Attend writers conferences ... at least twice a year.
3. Take writing classes
** Here's a list of FREE writing classes offered by top universities.
4. READ! (good books, not only in your genre; find the great authors, study their work and do what they do.
DON'T FORGET to ...
Show, don't tell.
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~ Anton Chekhov
to Tell: Dan was confused.
to Show: Dan crunched his eyebrows and scratched his head.
Click here for perfect examples of "show, don't tell."
THE ISSUE with ...
1. Dialogue: Tags versus Beats (Awesome must-read post by Rebecca LuElla Miller)
Dialogue tag (use sparingly or eliminate): "How many jelly beans do you think are in this jar?" she asked.
Descriptive beat (use well, more acceptable than tags): Darla adjusted her purple-rimmed reading glasses and picked up the jar on Mrs. Teacher's desk. "How many jelly beans do you think are in here?"
2. Overusing certain words (deadwood words/deadwood constructions): these we can eliminate 99% of the time.
Great article on overused words
More overused words and phrases
Links to website with editing tools that help find the overused words in your manuscript.
What are modifiers? by Grammar Girl
THINGS THAT MAKE ME GO, "HUMMmmmm."
1. If you say, "He started to walk in the same direction ..." wouldn't it be better to say, "He walked in the same direction"?