So everyone's filled in 'how to get on the list' but not a lot of peeps are sharing if it is 'worth it'.
As an author who has been on both, and I normally get the USA Today list with most of my new releases, I can say...it doesn't really affect sales numbers. Like not directly. I don't know what people would call worth it, but I don't think I've ever had a sudden influx of sales just because I hit the list. And I think that's what people sort of hope when hitting the list. That somehow it means an influx of natural readers just because you've got NYT Bestselling somewhere.
Like, I don't think anyone scouts the bestseller lists for something new to read. It is what book industry people may scout and see who made the list.
What does change a bit is only in how you kind of promote yourself, and what others perceive as an accomplishment. It's total BS because you can sort of hack and buy your way into lists if you really wanted, and most people realize it if you're in the business. Most people who are authentically in the book publishing industry know this, so it isn't like you suddenly get offers from trade publishers or movie deals just because you've gotten the title. Maybe if your book stays on the list for a couple of weeks. Or you hit it regularly, agents or someone like that might poke around and see if you'd want to work with them. (Have had agents poking around, but they always want you to write something new to sell to trade.)
I've had fellow authors who got on both lists, some through those book bundles in the day, and it hasn't done much for their careers. They bought the book on sale, but they didn't follow through with buying other books. They struggle just as much as anyone else to make a decent living at it. There are authors here who have never made the lists and do spectacularly.
Honestly, I've stopped trying to organize myself completely to hit a list. I try to make more decisions on visibility for new readers, and generating more income, not getting a title. This doesn't always coincide.
Readers are more important. Visibility is more important.
Readers don't care about the label for the most part. They'll pick up your book if it looks good and the blurb makes it sound like something they want to dive into. Whether you're flashing NYT or USA Today doesn't really matter, or it may a little bit. There's an expectation that your book is more professional, even if you are labeled as indie. And if it isn't edited, there's a slew of 'bad editing' reviews that can show up.
If you think you have a reasonable chance at hitting it, try it. Do it the once. Get the label. Utilize that for marketing for whatever it is worth. Just don't expect a life change.