05/15/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
When Who Wants to Be a Millionaire contestant Brad Herzog, 31, opted to end his blaze of trivia glory with $64,000 in winnings on April 4, he had no idea his best lifeline was yet to come. During routine banter with Regis Philbin, Herzog, a freelance writer from Pacific Grove, Calif., got a chance to mention his travelogue States of Mind before 20 million-odd viewers. Faster than you can say Harry Potter or Oprah
's Book Club, States jetted from 122,040 on Amazon.com's sales ranking to No. 2 at one point.
Four years ago, Herzog and his wife, Amy, 30, a PR exec, cashed in their life savings, bought a Winne-bago and hit the road. States chronicles their 314-day, 21,000-mile journey through 48 states as they sought out namesake virtues in 18 small American towns. "We searched for justice in Justice, W.Va., pride in Pride, Ala., and wisdom in Wisdom, Mont.," says Herzog, "and had the best year of our lives."
Despite getting warm reviews when it was published last June, the book sold only a few thousand copies before Herzog went on TV. States is now in its second printing. "It's not a Danielle Steel novel," he says. "It just needed the right audience."