Having recently joined the ranks of CPAN authors, I have lived through a very similar process. I would only add that since all of the authors on CPAN have gone through this process, some have made tools which make much of it simpler.
There are several modules which make managing building and releasing your distribution easier. I have switched to Dist::Zilla for this purpose. You can look at my blog entry on switching and my full distribution on GitHub.
Also you can preview your POD on CPAN at http://search.cpan.org/pod2html.