216: Behind the Scenes With a Voice Actor with Kate McDugald

How to Narrate a Book of Fiction

“How can I make this the most fun, where I’m just playing, having my most fun experience with this?” — Kate McDugald

For Kate McDugald’s twenty-fifth birthday, her mom gave her the gift of cutting her off financially. This forced Kate to ask herself, what would she do next to support herself and what does she really love? She decided to diversify her love of theater and started networking to find acting jobs such as voiceovers and narrating audiobooks.

In this episode of “Authors Who Lead,” I talk with Kate McDugald about her acting and voice career, retaining her creativity while working full-time, and her experience narrating her first audiobook, “Earthlight Space Academy: Border School,” by Heather Lee Dyer.


Audiobooks are growing in popularity because of the versatility of being able to listen to a story while driving or exercising versus sitting down to read from an actual book or an e-reader. As authors, having audiobooks alongside our paperback and ebook editions is a smart decision.

The question we need to ask ourselves then, is would we narrate our own book or have someone else do it? What if it’s fiction and has multiple characters? In this case, a lot of authors choose to hire a professional narrator, preferably with acting experience. This is where Kate McDugald found an opportunity to use her voice and acting skills: to narrate a young adult audiobook.

Recording an Audiobook

Experience with acting gave Kate the self-confidence and skills to be able to prepare for, survive, and execute a well-spoken audiobook. Most people think that narrating a book would be easy, like having a conversation.

But there is so much more to record a flawless, interesting, and well-engineered audiobook than just reading out loud. Kate was scheduled for three days at a recording studio in San Diego, California. She spent the nights at a nearby Airbnb and prepared for each four-hour day by reading and taking notes on the book.

As an actor, she already knew how to protect her throat and voice, but the experience taught her that there is always more to learn, such as vocal exercises, or that no matter how good you are, there may be fixes to do later on. She tells us in this podcast that this was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences she’s had as a voice actor.

In this podcast, Kate also shares with us:

  • Ways to make audiobook narrating more successful
  • Why hitting pause on creative projects can give you a fresh perspective
  • How to keep your creative well full even while working full-time
  • How networking can lead you to diverse opportunities

What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Do you prefer listening to audiobooks over reading a book? Are you an author who is thinking about recording an audiobook? Share in the comments below!

That’s all for this week. If you have a message inside of you that needs to be written, today is the day to start. Don’t delay — take action.

Episode Resource:

Connect with Kate here:

Authors Who Lead
Fiction with Purpose

Connect with Heather here:

Get a copy of Heather’s audiobook here: Earthlight Space Academy: Border School
Free audiobook copy here:

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216: Behind the Scenes With a Voice Actor with Kate McDugald216: Behind the Scenes With a Voice Actor with Kate McDugald