Former president Jimmy Carter signed an agreement with Bantam Books Inc. to publish his White House memoirs, Bantam spokesman Stewart Applebaum said yesterday. Carter was represented in the negotiations by New York literary agents Marvin Josephson and Lynn Nesbit of International Creative Management.

While Nesbit and Applebaum refused to discuss the financial agreement, three sourcese within firing range of the negotiations yesterday estimated Carter would be paid between $1 million and $2 million -- probably closer to $2 million. But the amounts were proffered guardedly and Nesbit would only say, "We are not discussing the money at all, but it's obviously a substantial contract. We just don't feel that it's dignified and neither does the president."

One source said last night that Carter had demanded a clause in the contract prohibiting Bantam from revealing the amount of the deal.

Bantam acquired both the hard-cover and paperback publishings rights for the U.S. and Canada for the as-yet-untitled memoir, which Carter began writing this week, Nesbit said. The agreement was finalized Thursday. b

"We've acquired a one-volume book," Applebaum said. "It is our understanding that it will cover his four years in the White House, including his domestic and personal affairs, and will examine foreign and political matters as well."

In writing the book, Carter will use government papers and memoranda and White House documents, as well as notes he took every day in long-hand, Applebaum said. Nesbit said Carter dictated daily notes into a tape machine and "the tapes are now being transcribed and will form the basis of the book."

The deal was achieved after about 10 days of negotiations, according to Nesbit. She said four publishers had met with the former president about the memoirs, expected to be ready for publication in late 1982.