Anthony Cheetham will unveil his new publishing company, Head of Zeus, in the summer of next year, with a biography of Catherine the Great by Robert K Massie bought from Random House US.
The venture—which Cheetham had planned to launch at Atlantic Books before leaving the publisher four months ago—will see him bring out a further 10 print titles in 2012 on a list of "general books with a slightly upmarket feel", alongside a digital-first popular fiction list.
The serial publishing entrepreneur said that stage one of his new company's financing would come from himself "and close associates", with long-term funding set to be sought in a year's time from a number of small investors. Cheetham said: "That was the route we went down with Quercus, and it worked well."
Office space is currently being negotiated in London, and distribution details finalised. Six to eight members of staff will be in place by the time of the launch next summer.
Cheetham declined to comment on whether his son Nicolas Cheetham, currently heading Atlantic's Corvus imprint, would be involved, other than to say there were "no plans at this time".
Head of Zeus takes its name from the legend of goddess Athene, who sprung fully formed from her father Zeus' head. "The company symbol is an owl, which is wise and strong, and the symbol of the goddess," Cheetham said. "You have to make a jump from the owl to the Head of Zeus, which I admit is slightly specialist knowledge."
He added: "The only difference between this and past endeavours is that this is not a blueprint for some huge group. This time I prefer to retain ownership and management, so one is not forced to sell it. I'd like this one to stick around for a while."
Cheetham has founded or run Orion, Abacus, Futura, Century, Quercus and Corvus.